Embracing iLearning

Assistant Professor Julie Costopolous incorporates iPads among her instructional tools.
Assistant Professor Julie Costopolous incorporates iPads among her instructional tools.

iPads are joining more traditional educational tools in a number of Florida Institute of Technology classrooms as a program pairing faculty with the versatile Apple tablets continues to excite participants about the power of technology to engage students and enliven the teaching process.

Started three years ago by University Professor Mary Bonhomme, the program has since provided iPads to 28 faculty members chosen from a larger pool of interested faculty, all of whom had to submit proposals for how they would use the device in their teaching.

Given the rising presence of smart phones and tablets, Bonhomme said, it makes sense to explore how to incorporate iPads into teaching.

“You have students who have grown up with this technology, and if we’re not learning to embrace it, to enhance and supplement the teaching and learning environment, I think we’re going to have some students who are not excited by the idea of learning,” Bonhomme said.

Debbie Lelekis, an assistant professor of English who had never used an Apple product, began using the iPad in her spring semester humanities elective, “Science, Technology and the American Narrative.”

Using presentation software like Prezi, making video clips and faux movie trailers of student projects, gathering related articles and content with her students on Pearltrees.com—the integration of the iPad and the utilization of its capabilities has been smooth and encouraging for Lelekis.

And it has allowed her to offer more creative ways of teaching while adding another level of connection for her students.

“This is a way for them, through technology, to get connected, to engage, to be active learners rather than passively sit there and listen to me lecture,” she said.

Jared Campbell, an instructional technologist at Florida Tech who was instrumental in developing the curriculum for the iPad program, said the devices—and educational technology in general—should be about simplifying and amplifying the act of teaching.

That’s happening with the iPads. “It’s been a really good experience for everybody,” he said. “I feel like it’s been a great success.”

—Adam Lowenstein

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