iPads to enhance learning for education majors

Oklahoma University education majors soon will learn how to enhance K-12 learning through iPad usage.

Beginning this spring, 575 undergraduate students at the University of Oklahoma‘s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education will be given fourth-generation iPads to complete assignments and create lesson plans, and they’ll carry their course work into the professional world with them.

“Students will use iPads within the curriculum to create digital content for classes and prepare to teach in K-12 schools with similar iPad programs,” said Erin Yarbrough, director of web communications at OU. “The goal of this initiative is to enhance the traditional learning experience of our students in the classroom and create better teachers.”

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“Since many K-12 schools have adopted iPad initiatives, it is imperative that future teachers learn and teach with the same tools,” said Gregg Garn, dean of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education. “OU will supply iPads at no cost to the student and, upon completion of the program, students will get to keep the device and the digital content they have created to use in their teaching careers.”

Earlier this fall, OU undergraduate education professors received iPads and started to alter their teaching methods to adopt more digital functionality. Having now incorporated iPads into their courses, OU professors started to focus on teaching their students about using devices to boost K-12 learning and engagement.

“If you really want a one-to-one technology initiative to be successful, you first have to empower the faculty to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the technology that they are learning how to use,” said Teresa Cullen,OU  associate professor. “The goal is to have the faculty use the technology as a tool to incorporate the activities that they are already doing, such as lesson planning, and to extend to such activities as reviewing apps that would further enhance what they are teaching.”

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OU is currently developing its own iPad app to offer even more services to its students.

In an increasingly tech-saturated world, OU professors and students are learning about an entirely new world of possibilities—together.

“This is an innovative model, based on 21st-century skills that include collaboration between the faculty and the student,” said Cullen. “We are trying to design this collaboration to get the students engaged with the faculty so that they are learning together as future and current educators.”

Garn agreed. “The best teachers we see never stop learning,” he said. “How can an iPad enhance creativity and foster that attitude to never stop learning? That’s why this opportunity is so important for our students.”

OU’s iPad project is a part of the recently-launched One University, a digital initiative designed to enhance classroom technology access and use.

“This program incorporates a research component that will investigate how students and faculty are using the devices and how they revolutionize the learning experience,” said Yarbrough. “There are also several other iPad programs at the university including tutoring, athletics, our Core classroom, and more. These programs are part of the One University digital initiative [that involves] creating more free online educational content via iTunes U, researching and developing new digital textbooks to lower student costs and enhance content with interactive media, giving our students access to learn new technologies such as iOS development, and more.”

Yarbrough said he looks forward to OU’s expansion of One University and to working toward educating OU students about the immense benefits that technology offers.

“Digital content and programs open up a unique opportunity for [OU] to offer free online education opportunities to our alumni and the public, decrease student costs, and enhance the already excellent academic and student experience that OU is known for,” said Yarbrough.

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