GOSHEN — Goshen College education professor Kevin Gary was planning to show a short video of a lecture in his Foundations of Education class Monday morning.
The overhead projector in the classroom wouldn’t work, but Gary had another option: iPads.
Goshen College will give iPads to full-time incoming freshmen this fall as a part of the college’s new general education curriculum. While many professors will implement the tablet computers into their classrooms next fall, Gary was excited about the possibilities and is piloting the technology in a class he is teaching this month during the college’s May Term.
Gary began personally using an iPad last January and said he “immediately saw some advantages to using it in education.” He contacted Goshen College’s technology department which provided the class with an iPad for each student.
Using it to watch the video lecture in Monday’s class “wasn’t ideal,” he said, but was sufficient since the projector wouldn’t work.
More often, students use the iPads to access online readings for class. Gary said using a certain app, he is able to write notes and markings in online articles to help direct students’ reading and how they should be reading documents, he said. Students have also used the iPad’s camera to record themselves practicing teaching to others, then writing a reflection on what they saw when watching the recording.
Those videos can later be used as a part of the education students’ portfolios to demonstrate that they can teach. A video clip of a student in a fifth-grade classroom discussing photosynthesis can show a student’s approach to teaching more than a written lesson plan, for example, Gary said.
The iPads also mean that the class does not need to leave the classroom to go to a computer lab when needing to search scholarly articles or work on other projects.
They’ve worked well in the class so far, Gary said, adding that he’s taken time to discuss the iPads’ place in the classroom. Because of some student feedback, Gary is working to be more direct about when the iPads should be open and when they should be closed and set aside, such as during class discussions or note taking.
He was also quick to note that he wouldn’t use the iPads in all of his classes, such as the Introduction to Philosophy class he also teaches.
Reactions from students have been mixed. “Some love it and some are critical,” he said. At the end of the three-week course, if students look back and say they didn’t like using the iPad or it was too distracting, he’ll reconsider using it in that class in the future.
Javier Lopez, a freshman secondary education major from Goshen, said he isn’t necessarily gaining more than he would without the iPad, but said that the iPad does make parts of the class more convenient.
It’s easier to just get out and use, Lopez said, and makes online articles more accessible.
“It’s good to have in class because we can follow along easier,” especially when reviewing articles or other documents, he said.
Nina Fox, a freshman education major from Grand Rapids, Mich. in the class, also said she likes using the iPads in the class. Like Gary, she said she doesn’t think they would work well in every class.
“I like it. I think it’s really useful, especially for reading articles online,” she said. With the amount this class reads, she added, the iPads are practical for the class.