Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter

VOLUME 13   NUMBER 3

SUMMER 2012

iPads in Education

The Educational Resource Center, one of the special libraries on campus, strives to meet the needs of faculty and students at Boston College by providing the most up-to-date and latest technologies in education. In April 2010, iPads were introduced to the marketplace and immediately there was recognition of the educational potential in this new tablet style computer. The iPad is lightweight, portable and requires just a light touch to make use of its technology. The device provides educational delivery through the use of applications or apps downloaded onto the device. The apps are available in a variety of subject areas as well as at various levels from elementary to secondary education and beyond. The iPad has rapidly become a new way to deliver information both quickly and efficiently.

Students and faculty in the LSOE have embraced the new iPads. The students quickly learned how to use the iPad since many of the features and functionality are similar to those of a smartphone. Pre-service teachers at Boston College are on the cutting edge of exploring ways to integrate the iPad in the classroom and experiment with the innovative use of the available apps. The ERC allows the iPads to be checked out for 4 days and a classroom set (containing 6 iPads) is also available to bring into local area schools to work with students; or the classroom set may be used by BC faculty to explore iPad use in their classes.

iPads are part of the mobile technologies that may transform education; however, because of their relative newness there is still much to learn. By making iPads so readily available through the ERC, faculty are encouraged to check them out and interact with their technology. iPads allow for multiple ways to learn as well as innovative ways to engage and reach students. Dr. Katherine McNeill, Associate Professor in Teacher Education, uses iPads with her students. Dr. McNeill states “I teach ED 109.01- Teaching About the Natural World, which is a class for undergraduates majoring in elementary education. ED109.01 is unique in that it is taught at Gardner elementary school in Boston for eight of the fourteen weeks during the semester in conjunction with an afterschool program. The course provides undergraduates with experiences teaching science to elementary students that allow them to link theory to practice in engaging ways. This semester I worked with some of the undergraduates to integrate the iPads into their science lessons at Gardner. This was the first time that I had observed elementary students using iPads in the classroom. As soon as the iPads were brought out, the elementary students were immediately engaged. The technology tool is exciting and new for the students, which they are interested in exploring.”

Dr. Lillie Albert, Associate Professor in Teacher Education, is also working with the ERC iPads in her classes. Most of the LSOE students do not own an iPad but, thanks to the ERC, students have access to the devices and can check them out of the library to experiment with the apps in an educational setting. In class, Dr. Albert challenges her students to think critically about the apps in terms of the advantages and disadvantages of using a particular app with students. She asks her students to look at the specific purpose behind an app as well as the overall directions supplied with an app. In addition, Dr. Albert questions her students by asking them to think about what they would suggest to the developer to change in a specific app. She also engages her students in a discussion about apps that are colorful and fun versus apps geared toward teaching students problem solving skills. Moreover, another benefit that Dr. Albert sees with the new iPad technology is the distinct advantage over the printed text. In an iPad it is easy to highlight, underline, and write in the margins. Reading articles, marking them up, and storing them is a whole lot easier with an iPad.

To find out more about the current apps loaded on the ERC iPads as well as information on the use of the iPad in education check out the ERC iPad libguide. For comments or to request additional information please feel free to contact me at cohenlm@bc.edu.

Margaret Cohen
Head Librarian, Educational Resource Center