School of education incorporates iPads to prepare future teachers for changing technology

As of this semester, many students in the Ella Cline Shear School of Education learned that there may have been fewer textbooks on their book list, but there was also a requirement to either purchase an iPad or rent one from the college to use in class. Not every professor in the department has implemented the use of iPads in their classrooms, but with technological expansion and children’s exposure to technology, the school of education feels future teachers need to be prepared.

Ella Cline Shear School of Education associate professor Mary Jensen and a colleague have been conducting research on the benefits of utilizing iPads in the classroom. “It has been an ongoing project for a couple of years,” Jensen said. “This past year we have expanded that to include other faculty and other classes.”

After conducting the studies, Jensen and other faculty received funding for both the research and for the expansion from Campus Auxiliary Services. CAS supported the faculty triaging and preparation with the series of six workshops necessary to ensure the success of the project.

The training consisted of faculty from the school of education, faculty from Milne Library, Apple Representatives and staff from CAS. These workshops allowed these individuals to look at various ways in which iPads could be used in a college setting, as well as in elementary schools.

Although iPads are costly, CAS will be providing students with a rental program or students will be allowed to purchase iPads up front. The cost of the iPad seems tremendous at first, but after comparing it to the extensive weight and costs of textbooks, iPads have been accepted by many students including childhood and special education major senior Nicolas Van Den Burgh.

Prior to the beginning of the semester, Van Den Burgh said he noticed one of his education block classes had minimal books required, but later he discovered that he needed to have an iPad for class. At first he was concerned because of the cost but he then found the iPad to be quite useful and a great investment.

“iPads provide more ways of helping students,” he said. “For those who may have difficulties in a subject area, the iPad provides applications that can suit many needs and this is just a new way of learning.”

The implementation of iPads in the classroom does propose many fears like screen time and whether or not children will be distracted, but Jensen noted that she views this project positively.

“One of the realities is that a growing number of schools are incorporating iPads in the classroom and it has become a way that children are learning,” she said.

iPads offer applications that can assist many students; some students in said that it is a useful tool for work with children with disabilities.

Looking forward, Jensen emphasized that both her and colleagues have one particular focus. “We want to use iPads in ways to enhance communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration in developmentally appropriate ways,” she said. “We want to reflect those connections in local and global environments. We think this is important in building bridges to the classrooms of tomorrow as we prepare teachers.”