GOSHEN — This fall, Goshen College’s incoming freshmen will receive their class schedules and campus map, but not on paper. Those and other orientation materials will be on iPads that those students will use throughout their college careers.
Goshen College announced Thursday that this fall’s full-time freshmen will each receive an Apple iPad to use for academic, professional and creative use. The plan is a piece of the college’s new general education curriculum, which outlines classes that every student must take to graduate.
Public relations director Richard Aguirre, who was also on the college’s task force to consider implementing iPads, said that students will develop an e-portfolio during their time at the college.
Students will receive the newest version of the iPad, complete with an audio and video recorder, he said, so portfolios and classroom assignments can include multimedia pieces. Students can also read content and write assignments on the iPad.
“You can pretty much do anything on here that you can do on a laptop,” Aguirre said. But the tablet style of the iPad also makes it more conducive to handing over to others to share information, he added.
The iPads can help reduce the need and cost of some textbooks, he said, as they are replaced with applications or “apps,” electronic textbooks and other programs in some classes.
Aguirre also predicted that the iPad initiative will cut printing costs. The college prints around 2.6 million pages of paper per year, he said.
Goshen College held several discussion forums for students and faculty the last few weeks as a task force considered distributing iPads to freshmen.
Grant Miller, a member of Goshen College’s student senate, which organized some of the discussions, said that reactions to the original proposal were mixed.
“Conversations have ranged from the practical and pedagogical use of the iPad to the ethical and environmental costs of such technology,” he said.
Some valid concerns came up during those and other informal conversations, Aguirre said, including, “Will staring at screens drive us apart” as a community, and how the technology will impact the faith-based college.
Aguirre said that those and other concerns will be addressed during convocations and by a teachers task force that will look at how best to use the technology.
The iPads can also add more collaboration to the classroom.
“Not only do we expect, but we are excited about students influencing how they’re taught,” Aguirre said. “We’re expecting that students will suggest how these can be used in the classroom and that professors will be open to that.”
According to a release from the college, all faculty members involved in teaching the college’s new core curriculum will receive an iPad later this semester so they can develop how to use the iPad in their classes.
Seth Conley, assistant professor of communication, is excited to integrate students’ iPads into his television and broadcasting classes.
Conley doesn’t have his own iPad, but has found the communication department’s iPad very helpful for administrative tasks, like taking attendance.
“It really saves time and makes tasks that take up time that you don’t notice go quicker,” he said.
Now, he’s excited to use the technology with his students. He also likes how the iPad can work with different teaching styles or subjects, though he also said that “it’s not the answer for everything.”
“You learn some of the neat things it can do, then how it works best for you,” he said, adding that “there are apps in each area.”
Michelle Horning, professor of accounting, said, though she does not have an iPad, she has learned about several business apps she’s excited to try out.
“We now have something to innovate around,” she said. “It gives us new ways to think about teaching and learning.”
Freshmen will start with the iPads soon after their arrival on campus. The college’s Student Life Office plans to pre-load the iPads with freshmen orientation materials, so that freshmen will have immediate and continuing access to “vital information,” according to the college.
Current students will have access to iPads too through a campus check-out program.
Though not a marketing expense, Aguirre said that, this year, money is being reallocated from funds set aside for marketing-related expenses to pay for the iPads. Like anything the college does, tuition could be affected, but Aguirre said that it wouldn’t be a substantial change and that students may save money overall because of the technology initiative.
More information is available on the college’s webpages explaining the new curriculum and about the iCore Technology Initiative piece in particular at www.goshen.edu/icore.
According to the website, the iPads belong to the college, while the apps and content belong to the students. Students can then keep their iPads once they graduate.