GOSHEN — The Umbel Center, at Goshen College campus, was filled with animated incoming students, most of them holding iPad cases and comparing them with each others’ as they waited for their welcoming ceremony to start.
The class of 2016 is the first to receive iPads, which are part of a new curriculum and will be integrated into their classes and interactions with faculty and other students.
Richard Aguirre, public relations director at Goshen College, said “a couple hundred” students received iPads Saturday, though an exact number is yet to be released as more people enroll in the next week.
Academically, the iPads will serve as tools for students to purchase e-books instead of traditional textbooks, do homework and build an e-portfolio, among other things, said Scott Barge, director of assessment and institutional research.
Also as a part of the new curriculum, the Identity, Culture and Community Course will be a new class which all incoming students must take. This new class has been designed to integrate the iPads in activities throughout the school year.
“There are always going to be open questions about how this is going to work but by and large we are very excited about it,” he said. “The more we do with them, the more we see potential in them.”
Aside from their use in class, the faculty and staff can use the technology to submit surveys and maintain communication with students, Barge said.
Though they had been talking about the new curriculum and the integration of iPads into classes this last year, Barge said faculty and staff had kept a watch on emerging technology for a few years and felt this was the best time to make the changes they did.
“It’s not just technology for the sake of technology, we have this curriculum and we have this opportunity to integrate things very carefully and intentionally. For me it’s very meaningful.”
During the welcoming ceremony, Goshen College president James Brenneman told students the community was glad to have them and hoped they found their college years to be that “magical time” in their lives.
“This isn’t Hogwarts, but we think this is a magical place,” he said.
Goshen mayor Allan Kauffman also attended the ceremony to give a welcoming speech to students. He mentioned the ties between Goshen College alumni and the city, including his own ties as a Goshen College alumnus, talking about helping the community through business and public service.
“I want to make you feel that our city is your home as much as Goshen College is your home,” he said.