E-Net News

School of Communications provides iPads to faculty and staff for professional development

The School of Communications has provided an Apple iPad to each faculty and staff member as a form of professional development in a fast-changing communications world.

Associate dean Don Grady (right) and professors Staci Saltz and Gerald Gibson discuss how to use the iPad in the classroom.

The initiative was funded through stipends that accumulated through the years from the school’s success in the Hearst Journalism Awards program as well as fund-raising efforts in the school.

“The world of communications is undergoing radical transformation,” said Paul Parsons, dean of the School of Communications. “Our faculty and staff need to be on top of how technology is changing both the creation of content and the distribution of content in a global age. We want to jump-start that process in a dramatic way.”

The school offered the base model (Wi-Fi 16 GB) for free and allowed faculty and staff to choose whether to personally pay for any desired upgrade. In all, 13 chose the base model, seven upgraded storage to 32 or 64 GB, 30 added 3G capability for continuous Internet roaming, and seven decided to wait until the second-generation iPad is released in 2011.

The School of Communications – one of only 18 private universities in the nation with an accredited communications program – is embarking this fall in its self-study process leading to a re-accreditation visit in Fall 2011. One of the national standards focuses on staying abreast of communication technologies. Parsons credited Associate Dean Don Grady with the idea to create a common exploration in the technological arena with the iPad initiative.

“We have to research how we can use it to teach, but once we find them, it’s going to be a great tool to teach from,” said Randy Piland, a lecturer in the School of Communications. “We just have to find what those teaching methods are and which ones fit our teaching style and our research interests. I’ll definitely be on board with it.”

A cover story in Newsweek magazine declares the iPad a revolutionary device, saying, “The interface is so intuitive — navigating with your fingers rather than a keyboard and mouse — that it will change what we expect from our computers. Today we talk about ‘getting on the Internet,’ but with iPad you can have a persistent online connection…. The iPad could eventually become your TV, your newspaper, and your bookshelf. Pretty soon, Apple might even become your cable company.”

Phillip Motley, an assistant professor in the School of Communications and its Interactive Media master’s program, said the iPads could be used to teach students how to develop applications for mobile devices.

“I see that as being an interesting thing that we should try to explore,” Motley said. “It is possible that we could even teach a little bit of that in the classroom.”

Colin Donohue,
9/6/2010 12:21 PM