iPad Pilot Update

Faculty at ACMS's first brown bag lunch meeting

iPad pilot program participants gather at ACMS’s first brown bag lunch to share their experiences.

Earlier this year Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) launched a pilot program promoting the use of iPad in the classroom during the Spring 2013 quarter. The pilot provided faculty with iPads to use as part of their lectures to enhance their teaching and improve student learning. Recently the pilot participants gathered for lunch at ACMS’s offices to share their experiences and discuss challenges they encountered using their iPads.


In Urban Studies & Planning, one professor uses her iPad to enhance student demonstrations in class. Students were given a project where they were to use Street View images from Google Maps to discuss urban design principles. Students used Notability (an app that allows the user to write on top of PDFs) and a stylus to draw on their images to illustrate concepts in different colors. The annotated images were then saved and uploaded to Ted for later reference. The professor found that this allowed students to explain their work more fully than if they tried to use words alone.

Learning a Foreign Language

Another participant who teaches a foreign language conversation course said that she used her iPad to swiftly and easily reference images and videos on YouTube to reinforce words and topics that her students were learning. One of the benefits to being able to reference information so quickly was that it kept the students from reverting back to their native language, strengthening their use of the foreign language. This professor also used Notability to label images in a photo in the foreign language, adding the real time experience of learning visually to her course.

Mobility in the Classroom

A professor in the Physics department talked about how he has used the freedom of the iPad to move around his classroom and interact with his students rather than be stationary in the front of the room. One specific application was to use his iPad to quickly reference notes during an exam in response to student questions. This allowed him to answer the questions in a way that was familiar to students and encouraged them to apply principles they had already learned.

Fielding Questions during Lecture

Two faculty work together with an iPadOne professor shared how she has used the app TextMe in conjunction with her iPad to receive student questions during her lecture. The app, which creates a cell phone number for her use so she does not have to share her personal number with her students, collects text messages on her iPad in a convenient format. She encourages her students to text her during class with questions. This minimizes disruptions to her lecture and allows her to respond to student questions when it is natural to do so in the course of the lecture. The professor also noted that many more students asked questions than in her lectures where students are only able to raise their hands. One reason for the increase may be that students can ask questions anonymously, eliminating anxieties about voicing a lack of comprehension in front of the entire class.

Helpful Tips

Several participants at the meeting shared general tips regarding how to best utilize the iPad.

  • One suggestion was to create as much content ahead of time as possible and use a program like Notability to annotate on top of the content to draw students’ attention to information in slides. Writing out formulas by hand on the iPad tended to disrupt the flow of the class.
  • For instructors who wanted an easy way to switch between applications in the middle of lecture, double clicking the home button at the bottom of the iPad’s screen brings up a menu of all active applications that allowed a seamless transition between them.
  • Faculty who wanted to experiment with different apps to support their teaching were encouraged to consult user ratings and reviews to find out more about a given app before downloading them.
  • The Padagogy Wheel was shared with the entire group, which showed how different apps for the iPad support different aspects of pedagogy.

As we continue the iPad pilot, ACMS will continue updating everyone with the latest discoveries and lessons to help other instructors who are interested in using iPads in their courses. Check back regularly with the ACMS Blog for more news!


2 thoughts on “iPad Pilot Update

  1. I am currently attending a community college and my Professor uses his iPad to teach physics. The iPad records his voice, all the notes he takes when doing example problems and PowerPoint slides while he is lecturing, so he can later upload it to youtube for students that missed his lecture.

    • Hey Charyne,

      Neat stuff! Do you know what program your professor uses? If so we’ll pass that along to our participants so they know about it. Thanks!

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