iPads part of trend addressing diversity, inclusion in learning
- An increasing number of universities and colleges are leveraging one-to-one iPad initiatives as part of their strategic campus goals and efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion. Maryville University, which provides all undergraduate and some graduate students with iPads, has given out 3,600 of them during the last three years. Sam Harris, the institution's director of learning and technology support, said the approach has helped build "an active learning ecosystem allowing for students to learn in a hands on way," and "level the playing field" for students that may not have access to technologies.
- Similarly, Jackson State University has one of the largest one-to-one iPad programs in the country, providing the technology to all first-time, full-time freshmen since 2012, with the help of the Mississippi e-Center Foundation. The foundation's director, William McHenry, said in a statement that the institution started the initiative to "encourage student academic success and assist folks in taking advantage of learning opportunities." Robert Blaine, interim associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, also said in the statement that "students who didn't have mobile devices were the ones we needed to reach the most."
- Maryville's iPad survey data shows that students have a 97% favorability rating, with 87% saying the tablet is helping them succeed. Harris added that survey results from the fall 2017 semester show that 19% of freshmen said the iPad initiative was a contributing factor in their decision to attend Maryville.
The industry is experiencing the transformative nature of digital tools, with many recognizing that leveraging technology is better than falling behind the curve. In particular, many institutions are see that the workforce is changing, requiring more students to be comfortable with technology throughout their lives.
Unfortunately, however, many students don't have access to some technologies, which informed Maryville's decision to pursue a one-to-one iPad initiative as part of it strategic plan that includes building an active learning ecosystem, transformational innovation, diversity and inclusiveness and strategic growth, Harris said.
"How can you prepare innovative digital projects when you don't know what students are going to bring to the classroom, and so we wanted to level the playing field," said Harris to Education Dive. He added that the secondary benefits of the iPad program allow faculty members to create more innovative learning environments.
In terms of implementation, however, the institution recognized students who don't have experience with a technology may be uncomfortable with it, said Taylor Bell, instructional technology specialist at Maryville. That's why, she said, it's important to provide the resources to help students and staff using the technology.
"I think our students have been responding well to the technology we are giving them [and] I think that's in part because we have a great support system," said Bell. "We have a lot of on ground resources that not only allows our students to get help."
She added that faculty members also go through a semester of professional development that allows them to come up with innovative ideas, too. "This way they're really attuned to the device, so when they get in there with students they can help the students get in there as well."
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