iPadagogy

This post is written by Paul Kieffaber, Assistant Professor of Psychology.

Technology is no longer a novelty in the classroom.  In fact I can’t think of a single classroom that is not equipped with a computer and projector.  The ubiquity of this kind of technology in modern classrooms is due, in no small part, to the rich digital content (e.g., images and illustrations) that is now widely available to instructors.  While there are many advantages to electronic projection (e.g., PowerPoint) of lecture material, a large drawback is the loss of interactivity and spontaneity that results from being trapped behind the computer podium. In fact, I have observed that many students seem to become apathetic when class notes and images are all available offline in the form of a PowerPoint presentation.

Tablet devices such as the iPad hold promise for revitalizing the delivery of digital content by making it possible to seamlessly add animated and interactive instruction and tutorials.  Tablet computers, combined with appropriate software, enable the instructor to project and annotate images in a more naturalistic way.  They also permit the projection of naturalistic sketching in real-time using digital ink.  Another important benefit of tablet computers is the rapid development of software designed with the purpose of enriching the media used in educational settings.  For example, teaching neuroanatomy, I currently rely on static images of the brain at various angles, however, software such as Brain Pro (NOVA Series) on the iPad, permits the projection of a fully interactive 3D model of the brain that can be rotated to any number of angles and even have layers of anatomical structures stripped away to reveal many of the brain’s internal structures.  I believe that this enriched media, including the ability to sketch and/or interact with core material in real-time, is particularly important to developing the next generation of classroom technology.

The goals of this project are:

  1. to review and evaluate a number of rich-media tools for the iPad,
  2. to integrate a subset of these tools into a 40-seat Physiological Psychology course (PSYC313) and a 15-seat Research Methods in Physiological Psychology course (PSYC413), and
  3. to evaluate the contributions of this rich media to the classroom experience from the perspectives of both student and instructor.

Rich media tools from several categories will be reviewed and evaluated before being integrated into the classroom.  This process will be documented on the “iPadagogy” wiki.  My hope is that this wiki will become a resource for other instructors considering adopting similar technology for their own classes.

Ordinarily a cable would be required to mirror the iPad’s screen to the overhead projector. Thus, another goal of this project is to determine the feasibility of wireless projection of digital content using AppleTV.  Costing only around $100, AppleTV provides a wireless link between the iPad and the overhead projector, thus freeing the instructor to stand anywhere in the classroom or even move about the room in a very natural way.