In the winter term of 2010-11, Dr. Susee Witt introduced the iPad to her American Literature II course, hoping to enhance the students' learning, encourage sharing and interaction among the students, and allow them to learn through doing rather than watching.
While in class, the students performed the following tasks on the iPad:
- Read shorter texts online, saving paper usually used for handouts
- Browsed through a book of photographs of the Civil War to illustrate the readings
- Viewed podcasts and video casts
- Accessed a course wiki
- Researched authors, artists, historical figures, and textual references
- Used Google Maps to situate the texts
- Collaborated and commented on each other's work
From the teacher's perspective, the pilot was a great success. Students shared more easily with the iPads than with laptops, and she was able to view these interactions without the barrier of a laptop screen. Students looked up unfamiliar words from the text, and were fully engaged in all map and research exercises. Although the students needed a laptop or desktop computer at home for writing, the iPads more than met the students' computing needs in the classroom. Overall, it was invaluable for each student to have a computing device in the classroom, leveling the playing field, and opening up the curriculum to new possibilities only available because every student had a device.
For the students, 83% stated that the iPad enhanced their learning:
- "It inspired a more collaborative curriculum."
- "It brought new multimedia options to class, like photos, clips, and movies."
- "Since everyone had one, I think it brought our class together more, especially outside of class time."
- "I could pull up things I had written on my laptop on my iPad in class, and I could then view it on my phone if I wanted. In class it was nice to be able to access syllabi, notes, etc."
- "I loved the visual aspect of it -- I am a visual learner and being able to pull my iPad out and do research/look at images was awesome."