Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Provost Alan Cramb announced this week that the university will continue to provide all incoming, first-year undergraduate students with the latest Apple iPads as part of an initiative to integrate new technologies into the classroom and foster educational innovation among faculty and students. First-year undergraduate students enrolling in the 2010-2011 academic year will receive the new iPad 2 device.
Recognizing students' need for personal computers and the potential of mobile computing devices beyond the traditional laptop, IIT first announced it would provide incoming students with iPads in May 2010, just weeks after the Apple devices were first released. This past year, IIT was a part of Apple's Educational Series; more than 100 people and representatives from 23 different universities came to the Idea Shop at IIT to hear about the iPad initiative.
In the first year of the IIT Mobile Computing Initiative, the university has seen a dramatic shift in the way students use computing technology both in and out of the classroom. iPads were distributed to more than 50 faculty members who primarily instruct undergraduates, and several workshops have been held on campus by Apple and IIT departments to help faculty integrate the technology into the classroom.
With students no longer hidden behind laptop screens in lecture halls and labs, IIT classes are more open to movement, faculty-student and student-student interaction, even when performing complex mathematical equations. Students can share annotations of eBook texts in real time, swap diagrams, and ask questions during lectures without interrupting class. In addition, students use apps like Penultimate to capture an audio/video record of the class, which is synced to the notes taken on the iPad. Confident that all their students are working on the same hardware and software, faculty can perform instant polls of students on quiz questions, getting instantly graphed results to assess students grasp of the material, and assign exercises to be completed individually or collaboratively. Faculty can also capture lectures in real time and upload directly to Blackboard Mobile for students.
Use of eBooks on the iPads eliminate many students' need to purchase and carry heavy paper books to and from class, and the campus bookstore is increasing the number of textbooks available electronically each semester.
Prior to the arrival of iPad-wielding undergraduates in 2010, IIT released an iPad/iPhone app which further extends IIT Alert, the campus emergency notification system, enhancing the existing capability to contact the university community through SMS text email, and voice messages. App development by both faculty and students has taken off at IIT, and through the IIT Stuart Knapp Entrepreneurship Center, the university has established expanding services to connect enterprise and students in mobile development.
IIT also offers an iPad Lab in the recently launched The Idea Shop™, a 13,000 square foot facility composed of a state-of-the-art rapid-prototyping lab, collaborative teaming areas, formal classroom space, and storage areas for student use. The Idea Shop™ is home to IIT’s Interprofessional Projects Program (IPRO), entrepreneurship initiatives, summer programs, and is available for use by all undergraduate students at IIT. The university provides 50 iPads for use in the shop; 10 iPad are available for long term projects by undergraduates.