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Students, Faculty Seeing Benefits of Midland University 1:1 Initiative


iPadSince the unveiling of the 1:1 Apple iPad initiative last fall, Midland University students and faculty members have experienced new opportunities for enhanced educational outcomes, both in and out of the classroom. In support of its mission to inspire people to learn and lead in the world with purpose, Midland provided each undergraduate student and full-time faculty member on the Fremont campus with new iPads and Apple Pencils, free of charge.

This innovative approach to instruction has provided students with the technology to help them succeed, and instructors with the ability to become more creative in their teaching methods. Dr. Henry Krusiewicz, Professor of English, is one of many instructors across campus who is impressed by the efficiency the iPads provide. “I use a computer every day and think it’s wonderful, but I was skeptical the 1:1 initiative would make a huge change in what I taught and how I taught,” Dr. Henry Krusiewicz said. “I was wrong. It has improved my performance as an instructor and has allowed me to streamline content and make them more effective. I am a believer in the iPad as a teaching tool.”    

Utilizing iPads in the classroom has been a new concept for many instructors. James Miller, Director of Innovative Teaching at Midland, said the University’s patience in putting everything in place has paid off this semester. “We did a good job in taking the appropriate amount of time with the rollout,” Miller said. “Our faculty has been embracing this for the better part of a year, even before the initiative was deployed, which I believe has been the right way to do it. It’s been a very exciting first semester and I think it’s because we did our due diligence in setting this up the right way.”

Through professional development sessions over the summer, faculty began to acclimate themselves to the many functions of the iPads. “We had a variety of informal sessions where faculty received training and spent time exploring different ways to improve instruction and increase student engagement,” Miller said. “Currently, 64% of our faculty is Apple Certified. This has helped them become familiar with the Apple ecosystem and allows them to feel more comfortable using the iPad.”

Professors are continuing to develop new and innovative ways to utilize the iPads. “I’ve been impressed how you can incorporate it on all levels of instruction,” Dr. Adam Knowlton, Associate Professor of Communications/Director of Forensics, said. “From one-on-one sessions, group work, and teaching presentations, I didn’t envision the breadth of opportunities until I started using the iPad.”

Knowlton is one of many instructors who has discovered innovative ways to make his lessons more efficient, for himself and his students. Knowlton began recording his lectures and putting them on iTunes, allowing students to reference a lecture at any point during the semester. “I have a student who is on the volleyball team and she was going to miss a couple of lectures because she was traveling with the team,” he said. “It made me nervous because it was so early in the semester, but by being able to listen remotely, she was able to get caught up very quickly.”

Instructors have also found the value of the iPads as a learning tool outside the classroom. Rex Barker, Director of Performing Arts and Instrumental Activities, utilized the iPads for his marching band students by having them go through their formations on the field, with the iPads guiding the way. “Rex came to me and said they have apps that would really benefit his musicians,” Miller said. “Our hope was to get faculty using these beyond the classroom. That’s the rewarding part of the process.” 

Knowlton emphasizes that an iPad in the hands of every student has opened doors previously closed to students and has provided each of them with the tools to be successful in their daily preparation. He’s also helping save students money as he replaced one of his current textbooks with a free Etextbook. “It’s a really awesome tool, but more importantly it has helped break down some of the barriers,” Knowlton said. “Before, not every student had access to the same technology. Now, I feel better equipped teaching a class where I know every student will have access to the same technology.”

Miller believes one of the most powerful functions the iPads bring to the classroom is student centricity. It has allowed them to take more ownership with presentations and group discussions, and helped them convey their message to their classmates. “What we strive for as a university is for the classrooms to have more active learning, which means they are more student-centered,” he said. “In some cases, they are the driver of the lesson and the content, which helps them demonstrate their capacity for learning in the classroom.”

Students have found that the iPads are expanding what they are able to accomplish in the classroom. Many have taken advantage of the Notability and Canvas applications, allowing them to be efficient in gathering information. “I use Notability the most,” Mashea Beman, a senior Communications/Arts major, said. “I’m able to take notes, then write my assignment and send it straight to Canvas. It’s all in one smooth step. As a student, it’s changed my approach 100 percent. I barely use my laptop anymore, and that was what I mainly used for the last three years.”

Faculty members are appreciative of the convenience of the iPads, and have integrated them into their daily preparation when it comes to lessons, class projects, and grading. “When students send me their work, if they happen to lose it, I still have it on the iPad,” Krusiewicz said. “I create extensive notes for all my lectures and rather than have my students write them all down, I have the ability to airdrop the notes to them. It allows us to pause in the middle of class and have a discussion. Everything is organized and grading is so much easier. The more I use it, the more it seems like a normal part of my daily routine. I also love the flexibility it gives me because I can take it anywhere.”

Faculty and students agree the first semester was a success, but Miller believes there is much more on the horizon. As everyone continues to familiarize themselves with the iPads, the possibilities of what can be done with the technology are endless. “I think we’re in an awesome spot, but there’s more work to be done and so much more potential to explore,” Miller said. “The more comfortable our faculty becomes with the devices, the more versatile they become. We’re encouraging faculty to start thinking of ways in which they become less reliant on textbooks and more reliant on self-developed content. We will continue down this road of innovation.”

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