iPad Studies

Fall 2011: New iPad Studies demonstrate promising future for use in Higher Education

Several newly released studies show students used iPad more frequently and with better results when compared to paper-only text. One comparison study by Dr. Ian Shepherd and Dr. Brent Reeves in an undergraduate micro-economics class demonstrates increased engagement and frequency of access compared to student using a laptop to access BlackBoard, a course management platform. Another study led by Dr. Bob McKelvain examined student annotation practices and found favorable results by students using iPad to annotate. Ryan Gertner, an ACU graduate student, compared use of iPad in demonstrations of higher order learning and showed iPad provided a higher rate of transfer learning in comparison samples in an undergraduate Psychology course. You can learn more about each of these studies, as well as others, below:

iPad or iFad? Realities of a Paperless Classroom


The use of iPad is examined as a tool to move students from the typical technology infused classroom into a truly mobile environment. The advent of iPad has fundamentally changed a teacher’s ability to mobilize the student’s learning environment, freeing them from the linkages typical laptop based computers have on access and interaction with other students. While iPhone made paperless classroom possible, iPad with its true mobility has made the paperless classroom practical with its functionality and versatility. The use of online texts, virtual games, electronic documents, group projects and teaching tools will be examined. The use of several applications and tools (such as Blackboard, Numbers, and QuickOffice) are examined outlining the benefits and limitations to their use in the classroom.

Key Findings:

  • Is a true mobile learning device
  • Increases student engagement
  • Enables collaborative learning
  • Allows potential student productivity
  • Allows potential student efficiency
  • Improves student technology competency
  • Reduces faculty back end effort

iPad or iFad – The reality of a paperless classroom, ACU Connected, Abilene, TX, March 2011, PDF.  



Joint Bell Labs-ACU Usability Study of a Digital Book Interface


This report describes the results of usability studies of an electronic book with a social component which has been created through the joint efforts of Bell Labs, Abilene Christian University, and Cambridge University Press. The purpose of this report is to assist designers and engineers in the design of the e–book. Following a brief review of the methodology of the studies, the results are presented in three sections. The Section 1 describes the results concerning the frequency of use of various annotations. Section 1 contains the findings of the annotation tasks using iPad and paper. This section also contains analysis of annotation frequency which compare the tasks and the groups. Section 2 describes the data from interview questions and tasks which asked the students to identify preferred names and symbols for annotations. Section 3 contains a brief analysis data about the social elements of the e-book.

Key Findings:
See study linked below.

ACU Usability Study of a Digital Book Interface, ACU Connected, Abilene, TX, March 2011, PDF.



The Effects of Multimedia Technology on Learning


Due to the rapid expansiveness of technology and its wide array of uses, the incorporation of technology in learning has become a viable and inexpensive option. As a result, it is becoming increasingly clear that traditional textbooks will be cast aside and the adoption of the e-book will result. Almost three-quarters of Americans (73%) believe that investing in innovation and advanced technology sciences in education is the key to the country’s long-term success (Harris Interactive, 2009). The mass array of multimedia learning devices such as iPad, iPhone, and Kindle hold the potential not only to replicate traditional textbooks but also to provide for a social interface component. Therefore, it is advantageous to utilize these current resources in order to create and to measure appropriate user interfaces that are capable of producing similar, if not better, learning outcomes from their predecessors - textbooks. The goal of the present study was to examine the effects of both e-reader devices and textbooks on comprehension and transfer learning.

Key Finding:

  • e-text readers exhibited significantly higher transfer learning scores compared to traditional textbook readers.

Gertner, R. (2011). The Effects of Multimedia Technology on Learning, Graduate Thesis releasing, Spring 2012, PDF.



iPad in a Science Teacher Community of Practice


Thirty-eight secondary science teachers received iPad to determine whether and how iPad could be educationally effective. For a variety of tasks, teachers used iPad more while traveling, less at home, and least at work. 85% used iPad daily for educational activities. Several teachers reported that their effective use of iPad and other technology has motivated schools to invest in more technology for them and other teachers in their districts. Limitations include lack of Flash capability and lack of classroom sets.

Key Findings:

  • iPad is preferred over notebook and desktop computers for most activities while traveling and at home. Researching and editing documents were two activities for which teachers preferred notebook computers. Desktop computers were preferred for several activities at work.
  • Easy, unfiltered access to the Internet was the single most cited educational benefit.
  • Portability and connectivity outside the classroom was another major benefit. Teachers can record data collected in the field, graph it on the spot, and even record lat/lon coordinates using iPad.
  • Lack of Flash capability and difficulty projecting were significant limitations.
  • Our teachers have become education technology leaders in their schools. Teachers' use of iPad and other technology has been so educationally effective that their peers, principals, and superintendents are often convinced to invest in similar technology for other teachers and classrooms.

Related Publications / Presentations:

  • Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) Conference. Kim Pamplin Nashville, TN. 8 March 2011. iPad in a Science Teacher Community of Practice, presentation.
  • Teacher Quality Grants technical meeting for project directors. October, 2010.



iPad as a Creative Tool to Consume and Disseminate Media

Researcher(s): Brandon Young, M.Arch

In addition to using iPad to consume and disseminate a variety of information and media, it may also be used as a tool to aid the creative process. There are a couple of interesting opportunities that come to mind. iPad will be utilized to deliver instructional text in the art and design disciplines while also providing a platform for the user to engage/interact with the text. 

Example: Provide an academic text on Design Drawing in an eBook format that allows the user to read and view examples of different drawing systems, view video tutorials on how to create a particular drawing type and then provide an opportunity (and interface) to complete related drawing exercises. Essentially, the user is able to read, view and actively participate in the tutorial process. The completed exercises could also be published to allow others to view, evaluate and provide feedback on similar work. This same model could be applied to other instructional academic texts (rendering, design methodology, 3D modeling, digital illustration, animation, etc.) and could utilize/integrate/link to a wide array of resources currently available online. The second opportunity is directly related to the example mentioned above. iPad will also be explored as a medium for drawing/painting/illustration, investigating the use of a stylus (with a variety of nib widths) and pressure-sensitivity to explore the possibility of using iPad as a portable, digital drawing pad.

Key Findings:
iPad is not a sophisticated drawing tablet; which was readily apparent, because of it's lack of pressure-sensitivity and the fairly wide nib widths of available styluses. However, in my experience it performs fairly well as a drawing tablet for diagrams illustrating design concepts (PDF - created with Penultimate which allows the creation of multi-page sketchbooks). It is easy enough to use and allows you to explore several iterations of a concept quickly.

Good drawings can be produced using iPad (several examples are available online), but it requires a different sensitivity/tactility than traditional media. (See example of my self-portrait, created with Brushes which records every stroke made during the process.) The great benefit is being able to take multiple tools/media (pencils, brushes, colors, etc.) virtually anywhere. This portability can be extremely useful for doing work on site. It also leads to a significant critique of the first iPad, which is the lack of a camera. This could be an incredibly useful tool to have in situ – take photographs, use as underlays and sketch over them without leaving the site. With iPad 2, this seems to have been remedied.

The ability to "layer" visual data (images, drawings, etc.) in most drawing apps is useful, especially when evaluating existing conditions and providing alternatives to proposed design solutions. As a teaching tool, example drawings can be used as the "base" layer upon which the student can build.

The following apps were also analyzed and reviewed: 

  • Brushes: simple interface, tool selection and navigation, decent emulation of pressure-sensitivity, responsive and accurate, a very powerful mobile, drawing tool.
  • SketchBook Pro: fairly deep set of tools, interface not too difficult once accustomed (but not as simple as Brushes), responsive and accurate, seems to be tailored more to the design industry (as opposed to fine art)
  • Penultimate: basic tool set that is extremely easy to use (but limited in what you can do), good for basic sketching and note taking, provides the ability to create multi-page documents (sketchbooks) which is a very useful feature, multiple "sheet" styles
    (plain, ruled and grid), grid pattern could be extremely useful if the user was able to scale the grid size, user cannot scale the size of the window (no zoom feature), in my opinion, this is a great app for schematic sketches/diagrams integrated with notes
  • Adobe Ideas and Quill: I did not use these as much as time went on, both have simple, easy-to-use interface, both are vector-based (as opposed to the previous apps which are all raster-based), vectors provide a very crisp, clean line, but can also slow down rendering and response-time (which can make sketching difficult and unnatural), also have the ability to export vectors and edit in other software (Quill only)

Example Sketches PDF



Media Presentation: Typography, Design, Layout of Digital Readers

Researcher(s): Nil Santana, M.S.

During the course of fall ’10 semester, my students and I briefly researched the implications of dynamic layout designs used on digital tablets, more specifically, Apple’s iPad. Throughout the research, we realized that not many publications were fully using neither exploring the capabilities of such devices, as information architecture, layout, and dynamic content concern.

Total participants: 18
Each participant was allowed to use iPad for one week, and then filled out a form with key points to be investigated.

Research Brief - iPad and Graphic Design: 

  • The use of iPad devices in graphic design: typography, layout, navigation, and use of dynamic content (images, video, animations, etc).
  • What are the implications of the medium? How can iPad change the way we create and access content? (Aesthetically and functionally)
  • How can iPad change the way we teach design disciplines?
  • How can iPad be used as displays for presentation of designs, the possible interactions the touch-screen offer, and how such interactions can be integrated on the presentations
  • Explore the capabilities of navigation (hierarchical, linear, web, etc.)

Key Findings:

  • Our investigations concluded that the majority (90%) of researched publishing companies/magazines still struggled with issues on (1) how to shift from paper to iPad. Most of the e-magazines researched were basically static PDF versions of printed issues. Our research group also realized that they were not sure (2) what to do with the new devices, since we observed it was not just a matter of making the content digitally available, there were issues in relation to layout (landscape vs. portrait orientation, zoom in/out, multiple level interactions).
  • Edition29 publications ranked top in all items (design, navigation, interaction and information architecture). It was the only one that presented a great combination and variety of media (text, audio, and video).
  • Design students responded positively in response to the new possibilities for their disciplines. Although being somewhat new devices (some students were yet not too familiar with iPad), they were able to realize the potential use of e-readers in publication and marketing. For them, it will be just a matter of time as consumers will be more prone to using them.
  • We concluded that as more designers, information architects, and programmers will familiarize with this new medium, more, and better publications will become available. We also concluded that just as web design was a new challenge when first introduced as discipline, designing for iPad will require a specific set of skills different than traditional print design.
  • I would like to give continuity to the research, and investigate same (new) publications one year later, during fall 2011.



Mobile Devices in a Project-Based Physics Classroom: Developing 
NETS-S in Students


This paper is to report the impact technology has on innovation, communication and collaboration, and critical thinking skills in a project-based classroom. Students have access to several technological applications, including iPad, translators, computer software, and projectors. Innovation has been shown to improve when students use technology to obtain starting ideas for various projects. Of the eight students in the classroom, all have shown improvements in their group communication skills and their ability to work with one another fluidly, using technology access project documents and research topics.

Key Findings:

  • Students have used mobile devices as springboards to come up with a finished product. They take the many ideas discovered in their research and compile them into a cohesive, new product.
  • During the first few projects, there were never many students who were willing to think critically. As the year has progressed, students are more willing to think and ask questions of both their group members and the teacher.
  • Project design has become more conducive to student innovation by providing choice and freedom to alter the assignments.
  • On individual summative assessments, students have dramatically increased their thinking abilities. Improvements have been seen on content reflection papers, problem sets, and in question sessions (students are able to come up with better answers faster).
  • Students have learned to communicate physics ideas more effectively through practice and presentations.
  • A student from China said that the convention he was used to has been an only lecture-based classroom. He said that the project-based format was a better way to learn.
  • Students have chosen to do their research on the internet with iPad, rather than use their textbooks.

Related Publications / Presentations:

  • International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, June 2011.
  • ACU Undergraduate Research Festival, Abilene Christian University. Abilene, TX. 28 March, 2011
  • Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) Conference, Nashville, TN. 9 March, 2011.



Paducation: iPad as an Effective Technology for Taking an Online Program


In cooperation with the mobile learning initiative (MLI) at ACU, iPad were distributed to a cohort of online graduate students in the Leadership of Digital Learning certificate as part of the Master of Education degree. Approximately 18 students received iPad for the purpose of using the device to read course materials, complete assignments, and implement application in personal and other professional activities. This paper presents a mixed methods study of feedback and data from surveys administered to the participants. The deployment of devices is to evaluate the potential of iPad as an effective technology for students taking online courses and to determine usage patterns over four semesters. Additional findings examine the novelty factor in the introduction of new technology, viability of digital texts on the device, and perception data in response to a survey distributed at the middle and end of the study.

Key Findings:

  • While traveling, iPad is preferred over all other devices (laptop and desktop computers, iPhone, etc.) for most activities.
  • iPad is preferred for most other activities while at home, work or school, excluding research, document creation and editing and collaboration.
  • Most students reported using their iPad on a daily basis for personal, social and educational.
  • A vast majority (84%) of respondents reported iPad utilization in the course facilitates more active contribution to the learning process.
  • Participants also indicated using iPad increased interaction with peers and/or colleagues outside the course and enhanced their overall experience in the course.

Paducation: iPad as an Effective Technology for Taking an Online Program PDF

Related Publications / Presentations:



Use of iPad in Training of Graduate Psychology Students in Assessment and Therapy Skills


The present study was exploratory and qualitative in nature. One supervisor and two therapists explored in mock assessment/therapy sessions the utility of iPad as a tool for (a) note taking and record keeping, (b) supervisor-to-supervisee feedback in real time, and (c) accessing clinical resources (e.g., risk assessment checklists). Particular attention was given to the learning curve required on the therapist/trainee’s part, as well as to the perception of the device’s interference from the perspective of the (mock) client.

Key Findings:

  • iPad is readily adaptable for primary in-session note taking, using one of several note-taking programs. The device’s security features allow for protection of client privilege & confidentiality.
  • Session notes can easily be retrieved and stored on a computer via the dropbox account method.
  • iPad lends itself well to the storage and accessing of useful, even critical, information for therapist trainees. Such information can be stored and accessed in the form of editable PDF files and includes: questionnaires, rating scales, suicide assessment instruments, child abuse assessment checklists, etc.
  • There is a significant learning curve requiring several hours (10+) of practice on the therapist-trainee’s part to become proficient with iPad. Initial reports indicate that both the therapist and the client feel that distractibility is minimal during note taking but more notable during the reading of communications from supervisor (due to the need to switch between programs) and while accessing resources (again due to the need to search for documents. Still, the rated distractibility appears commensurate with what is experienced when a trainee needs to sift through different paper/hard-copy resources or notes.
  • Most commercially available programs are not fully suited to this application so that it would be beneficial to develop single-purpose applications for iPad (such as suicide assessment checklist/decision tree) to minimize the need to search through files.
  • Supervisory feedback via real-time text messaging was rated as very helpful in mock-difficult-client scenarios. Shorter text messages that were quickly read at a glance were rated as significantly more helpful than longer messages for the trainee and less obtrusive (as perceived by the client).

Recommendations / Further Research:

  • This pilot study suggest promising use of iPad for further research and wider application in the clinical training of therapists
  • A pre-practicum workshop to train therapists in effective note taking with iPad combined with at-home and mock-therapy-session practice would be essential
  • It is recommended that specific applications be developed for mental health training needs (e.g., risk assessment)
  • Further exploration is needed to investigate the use of iPad to access an entirely web-based (or server-based) note-taking and assessment system.
  • Finally, research with a larger number of trainees, supervisors and actual clients is required to assess for (a) ease of use, (b) receptiveness/perception and (c) impact on therapeutic outcomes.
  • The ACU Psychology Clinic has, as a result of this pilot study, requested iPad for all graduate level practicum trainees for 2011-2012



Programming for iPad/iOS

Researcher(s): Brian Burton, Ed.D.

This papers shares experiences from teaching a lab-intensive undergraduate introductory course on mobile computing at Abilene Christian University. The lab was designed for computer science and information technology students developing applications for iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. The data was analyzed through the lens of the self-determination theory. Direction for future courses in mobile computing at ACU are discussed.

Key Findings:

  • Students were highly motivated to complete projects
  • With competence, autonomy and connectedness, students are motivated to become self-directed learners

Practices and Challenges for Mobile Computing PDF 

Related Publications / Presentations:

  • American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, 2011

Other Publications / Presentations:

  • Burton, B. G., Martin, B.N., (in press). Student engagement and the creation of knowledge within a 3D virtual learning environment. In Immersive Environments, Augmented Realities and Virtual Worlds: Assessing Future Trends in Education, Ed. S. D’Agustino, IGI Global Publishing.
  • Burton, B. G., Martin, B. N., Thomas, D. (2010) Collaboration and the use of three dimensional interface within a virtual learning environment. In Adaptation, Resistance and Access to Instructional Technologies: Assessing Future Trends in Education, Ed. S. D’Agustino. IGI Global Publishing.
  • Burton, B. G., Martin, B. N. (2010) Learning in 3D virtual environments: Collaboration and knowledge spirals. Journal of Educational Computing Research, Vol. 43(2) 259-273.
  • Burton, B. G., Martin, B. N., (2010) Collaboration and the use of Mobile Devices, paper, PDF. American Educational Research Association Convention, Denver, CO.
  • American Educational Research Association Convention. Burton, B. G., Martin, B. N.; Denver, CO, 2010. Collaboration and the use of Mobile Devices.
  • Southwest Educause Convention. Burton, B. G., Mhlanga, F. S.; Austin, TX, 2010. Experiences and direction in teaching an undergraduate course in mobile computing, presentation, PDF. Austin, TX.
  • Ed-Media Conference of AACE. Burton, B. G., Mhlanga, F.S. Toronto, ON, 2010; Best practices: Teaching mobile computing: practices & pitfalls, paper, PDF.



Digital Textbook Course Creation

Researcher(s): Shelly Sanders, Ph.D.

After receiving our iPad and creating a base syllabus for our co-taught IC2 (Self and Society), we proposed to spend the year embedding traditional course documents into the mobile devices, with the aim of eventually investigating learning efficiency and retention for information acquired on mobile devices vs. traditional methods of instruction. In the fall of 2010, Dr. Caron Gentry and I planned to examine the sociological implications and symbolism present in the popularity of horror theory, literature and film from Frankenstein to 28 Days Later. Having already gathered the traditional sources for the e-text, including books, articles, websites and movies, we would then integrate the interactive technology and seamless interface of iPad. For example, we envisioned the student reading Frankenstein and at the same time, being able to see the changes in the representation of the monster through the past century via media, images, and film. Further, we would include our lectures and podcasts as reference material that intersects, at various points, the readings and primary sources that the students can automatically link to in or outside of the classroom, which is the e-text edited volume. 

Key Findings:
iPad was used in the development of the IC2 course in the Creating Significant Learning Environments Workshops that were hosted by Dwayne Harupnuik in the Adams Center during the Fall of 2010. We designed an IC2 course similar to the one described above, and designed and wrote a syllabus. We found that iPad has many interesting applications for the interdisciplinary Core curriculum, including the ability to use multiple interfaces simultaneously. We will have more findings in the future if we are able to use the syllabus we designed to teach the IC2 course in the future.



iPad and Study Abroad: Interactive Learning in the International Environment


iPad was used as a tool in the Study Abroad context in Leipzig, Germany for the spring 2011 semester. This pilot program explored the uses of iPad as an interactive learning tool in the international setting. 

Key Findings:
iPad was found to be very useful in tying in historical context and media with both texts and site visits. Key uses included:

  • iPad was hugely helpful as a reader. It was light enough to easily carry on excursions and plenty of books could be loaded on it.
  • iPad was frequently used in class discussions to share visual imagery and narrative that helped shape the conversation, either through video or photograph. For example, when discussing the fall of the Berlin wall, a video was shown on iPad documenting the euphoria of that moment.
  • iPad was used frequently as an enhancement to excursion activities. Through it's use, we were able to bring the historical context of the setting to life. For example, when standing in Wenceslas Square in Prague, we showed photos on iPad of several famous gatherings in that spot throughout history.
  • iPad's notes and Pages features were helpful in catching on site reflections when traveling. Rather than bring a notebook, books, journals, and so forth, iPad allowed us to have everything in one small package. So we were able to enhance our discussions at historical sites with photos, videos, bring along books to share passages and take notes
    all with iPad.

Related Publications / Presentations:

  • [Pending submission to Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad] Shewmaker, J. & Shewmaker, S. (2011). iPad and Study Abroad: Interactive Learning in the International Environment.



iPad Effect: How Platform Choice Affects Information Consumption and Retention


This study examines the effects different media platforms have on information comprehension and retention. With constantly evolving technologies influencing the way people consume information, media users and creators must better understand the effects of such technologies on information comprehension and retention. Research across the fields of psychology and mass communication reveals that differing platforms make a difference in retention and comprehension, according to how they benefit or hinder cognitive processing. Factors such as informational elements, sensory modes of processing, and design layout among others affect information comprehension and recall. These effects were considered within the methodology of the study, which included testing on all three formats – print, web site and touch screen (e.g. iPad) – in order to discover specifically how each platform and its content helps or hinders cognitive processing of information. This study considers 90 undergraduate student participants’ comprehension and retention of a complex magazine article presented in print, online and touch screen forms, with 30 students consuming and responding to the article on each platform. Measurement of comprehension and retention were measured separately. Similar to Sanchez and Wiley’s study on the effects of scrolling on text comprehension (2009), participants were asked write a persuasive essay after reading the specified article. Second, in order to measure the retention of the article information, participants completed a 15-question Likert scale survey. Outcomes will include a comparison of comprehension and retention of information among the three platforms, as well as a discussion of the informational elements that may have affected the results.

Key Findings:

  • No difference in fact recall among the three types of media (hard, iPad or desktop computer). On average the groups missed 33%, 32% and 33% of the questions respectively.
  • Respondents who read on the desktop computer (60% indicated some level) indicated a much lower comprehension of the meaning of the article than those reading on iPad (73.4% ) or paper (83.4%).
  • Of those respondents who indicated comprehension of the themes, the platforms compared more closely – desktop (23%), iPad (27%) and paper (32%).

iPad Effect: How Platform Choice Affects Information Consumption and Retention PPT

Scheduled Presentation:

  • [Schedule Presentation] The Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences, Communication Division. Honolulu, HI. June 1-4, 2011.



Providing Immediate Feedback via Q&A Device

Researcher(s): Brady Bryce, D. Min.

The original classroom proposal intended iPad be used to immediately reflect learning from the class discussion time, using the Cornell Note Taking Method. Since, iPad were not available for all 15 class members this proved impossible. However, the revised approach made use of two online Google forms accessed on other mobile devices and computers. One form was to provide immediate feedback from all students on group projects. A second form allowed students to evaluate their fellow group member participation. The overall aim was similar: provide a form and allow students space to immediately respond, yet had the added benefit of immediately presenting that information back to groups for further innovation. 

Key Findings:

  • High Percentage of Student Response: 14 of 15 completed the Group Feedback Form; 15 of 15 completed the Group Evaluation Form.
  • Qualitative results seem to indicate that formative feedback was provided by group members. The formative nature of the feedback was indicated as individuals adapting their projects based upon feedback as well as how they innovated the chosen project using feedback received via the online form. In some ways, it was like turning the entire classroom into teachers providing feedback and the pressure of raising a project's standards to please both fellow students and teacher seemed to work.
  • The group evaluation form (where students evaluate how their fellow group members participated in the creation of the project) helped me as a teacher gauge individual student participation in order to provide a unique grade for each student based upon performance and participation.
  • One thing I observed by loaning my iPad to one student in each class. Students with iPad were more engaged to have a tool at their finger tips to instantly enter information. There were three students with no device (no computer or smartphone). Of those three students, two took their handwritten notes and entered data later and one did not bother to enter data. Clearly, having iPad tablet (or other device in the classroom) would increase likelihood of project submission.



Exploring iPad Utility with an Underrepresented Student Research Program


First generation, low income undergraduate students were presented with iPad to assess its utilization in research with this population. Participants include rising juniors and seniors involved in a twenty-five (25) week Research Institute. Working closely with a faculty mentor, they are provided experience in research techniques, research writing, data analysis, and research computer skills. Orientation to the device and its uses was provided, as well as regular meetings to explore apps which could be useful to the research process. A post-research survey was also conducted to evaluate time spent on research tasks and efficaciousness to the process.

Key Findings:

  • Data collection in progress

Related Publications / Presentations:



Study Abroad

Researcher(s): Robert Green, M.F.A.

In the months since receiving iPad, I experimented with its usefulness for teaching in study abroad settings. Between May 10 and July 1, I was teaching a group of 22 students in two primary settings: Oxford, England, and Florence, Italy. The idea I was testing was the extent to which iPad could become a “course-in-a-box”--that it might be the perfect mobile tool for the original “mobile teaching and learning” we call study abroad. In the summer of 2012 a new colleague and I will benefit from the “course in a box” developed with my iPad.

Key Findings:
Notation Device - For faculty there were numerous times when important information needed to be recorded immediately. These included financial transactions where no receipts were given, bus or train numbers or schedules, addresses, phone numbers, etc. Because I wanted to end the study abroad program with a course-in-a-box, I needed an accurate record of what we had done so that another faculty member could repeat everything with the greatest success and the least amount of effort. I kept a running log throughout the journey.

It was easy to sit down and use Pages or other apps to record observations about a work of art, jot down the artist’s name and the title of a work, or even to draw sketches with apps like SketchBook Pro or Adobe Ideas. Had 3G capacities existed, research about the image could be conducted on the spot and incorporated into the writing. With camera technology, a photo could be taken and used for sketching or manipulating to discover features of the work not easily visible or interpretable via the human eye. With all this in place a student could complete a writing assignment on-site, add and identify an image of the work written about, include supporting sketches, and email the finished product to the professor before leaving the facility. Of course none of our students had iPad.

Grading Tool - Students were instructed to submit papers as Word or PDF documents via email. These were opened in Pages or iAnnotate on iPad. When we took a train ride into London, I pulled out iPad, opened up the papers and graded them during the journey. Pages enabled me to type comments and a grade into each of the papers and email them back to students. This enabled a quick interchange of advice and feedback, an important asset within a study abroad setting. Plus, it was a paperless exchange!

In-Field Visual Aid - Often, for our study abroad on-site painting course, we walked out into the countryside or deep into a park to paint, away from resources other than those we brought with us. I took iPad along as a means to pull up images to help students. I had previously gathered a wide variety of examples of historical approaches to the painting of landscapes and cityscapes. These paintings had been assembled in iPhoto on my laptop, placed into albums, and downloaded to my iPad. When I was walking around talking to students about their work, whether in the field or in the classroom, I pulled up examples to demonstrate how other artists had solved similar problems. The students responded very well to this—and were especially surprised to see artworks out along a footpath in Cotswolds or sitting beside the riverbank at Minster Lovell.

Travel Guide - As my plan was for a course-in-a-box, I wanted to eliminate the need for faculty in the future to recreate or re-plan a trip or excursion. So for each excursion I developed a PDF document with maps and notes for each stage of the journey. For trips to London I downloaded maps, added instructions/directions in the form of notes, printed them to PDF, and assembled them into one document. When we made the trip, I was able to pull up the PDF document in GoodReader, refer to maps, negotiate the Underground, and find the facilities we had planned to visit (see the attached document). As the day progressed I used my iPod touch to make notes on timing (how long did we spend in the museum, how long did it take to walk from site 1 to site 2?). The end result was a self-contained excursion, repeatable by anyone who had access to the document. (3G capacities might reduce the need for maps and would permit on-the-spot variation from the itinerary by locating nearby attractions, dining alternatives, etc.)

Textbook - Rather than carry heavy textbooks overseas, I used iPad, downloading Vasari’s Lives of the Artists and using it throughout the trip. I could access the text anywhere I carried iPad—for instance, in front of Vasari’s ceiling mural in the Duomo, Florence, in a train, or at a coffee shop. I read Vasari’s essay on Giotto while we were traveling to see his cycle of murals at the Arena Chapel in Padua. As a test I also downloaded scholarly articles as PDF documents and placed them in GoodReader for easy access during the trip. Certainly this feature facilitates the continuity of scholarly engagement while overseas on study abroad, but it also has implications for the research students may conduct as they engage assignments that are part of their coursework.

I found iPad to be a tremendously useful tool. Its practicality for use within the visual field of art is superior to that of iPod touch—though I still found numerous applications where the iPod was preferable. My advice is to use both devices in tandem, even though this does mean toggling between the two. The iPod is simply more convenient to pull out of a pocket and put into action when traveling about or in a hurry. As we move forward in the university’s mobile initiative, I strongly suggest that iPad be an alternative option for students, especially those studying visual art.

Related Publications / Presentations:

  • Open iPad forums sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning.
The State of Mobile Learning
Students using iPhones in classroom discussion
So much about the way we teach, learn and communicate is up for grabs. Educators are using new tools and technologies to reach their students - but what does the future hold?

2010-2011 Mobile Learning Report

2010-11 Report (PDF)

2009-2010 Mobile Learning Report

2009-10 Report (PDF)

2008-2009 Mobile Learning Report