“We want our faculty, our staff, our university, to be at the forefront of technology,” said Mark Scott, vice president of technology and innovation “This program will continue to allow for that, while creating an atmosphere of shared knowledge and a higher education experience unlike any other.”
iKnow 2.0 will provide an iPad to all freshmen beginning with the Fall 2012 cohort. In addition, FHU will establish minimum MacBook requirements for incoming freshmen. It is anticipated that continuing and transfer students will be provided an opportunity to opt in to the iKnow 2.0 program and receive an iPad for a one-time fee that is basically equivalent to the cost of the iPad.
The most exciting part of the program will be the ability to access textbooks via the iPad. Historically, students go to the university bookstore and spend hundreds of dollars per semester on books. Now, because of the iPad, students will have access to interactive digital textbooks that are not only more participatory, but significantly more affordable.
“We are not the most popular people with the bookstore staff right now,” said Mark Scott jokingly. “But they understand, as we do, that this is the future and we have to continue to progress, if we want to continue to provide the best Christian education possible.”
FHU has partnered with Inkling, a company working with publishers to provide enriched, interactive, and engaging content, on the iPad. Their goal, along with FHU, is not to reinvent the textbook or reinvent publishing, but to reinvent the way people learn on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University.
"When I visited the campus and met the team at FHU, it was clear to me that we had a forward-thinking technology partner to work with," said Matt MacInnis, founder and CEO of Inkling. "We're thrilled to be a part of the university's technology revolution."
“Once we saw a demo of Inkling, it was obvious how limited traditional textbooks had become and how limitless the digital textbooks seemed on the iPad. That is very exciting for us,” said Mark Scott.
“Our books will no longer look like they used to,” said Katie Scott. “They will all be in one tablet, where we can write in them, make notes, see real videos, 3D models, and we get to keep them forever; it is going to be awesome.”
Additionally, the iPad will be provided to the faculty of Freed-Hardeman. They also recognize the importance of moving forward.
“Make no mistake, this is an academic initiative,” said Dr. C. J. Vires, vice president of academics at Freed-Hardeman. “Academically, we are positioned well to move in this direction thanks to the myriad of faculty who have participated in several pilot projects and are already effectively using the iPad as an instructional tool within the classroom. In addition, our Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) has been working diligently to identify and disseminate information and training related to the iPad. To further facilitate this transition academically, we are working on a strategy to provide iPads during the Spring 2012 semester to those full-time teaching faculty who do not already have one. Through the help of our advancement team, the university is raising funds to make this happen. Also, CIT will host a number of events to highlight various instructional tools and strategies associated with the iPad. Finally, we will continue to work with companies like Inkling to identify digital textbooks that provide the richest content and dynamic experiences for our students. Through all of these efforts, students at FHU in the fall of 2012 will become more actively involved in the dynamic co-presentation and co-creation of classroom content and experiences. As a result, student learning will increase and our graduates will be better prepared for the adaptive and evolving work environment they will enter upon graduation.”
Faculty at FHU believe that will be the case, if they can get the iPad to the classroom.
“My five-year-old daughter found some of the apps I downloaded for our science faculty,” said Dr. LeAnn Self-Davis, dean of the School of Sciences and Mathematics. “She already knows how to dissect a frog.”
Self-Davis said that when FHU conducted the iPad pilot study that the tablet seemed to be less intrusive than a laptop and definitely more interactive.
“The students make more eye contact and seem to focus more than they did with a laptop in front of them. Because the iPad is limited to one application at a time, social media, the Internet and other things that can work their way into the classroom through technology did not distract students. The iPad eliminated that,” said Davis
The iPad does have its challenges, however. Changing the way professors have taught for years, some of them for more than 30 years, is definitely a challenge according to campus information technology specialist Patrick Bolton.
“Although we have made great strides over the past several years, we have a few instructors who have yet to embrace new technology,“ said Bolton. “We have to find a way to integrate what they have done for years, what they are comfortable with, into this new technology.” According to Boltin, one way this can be accomplished is by using the iPad in conjunction with a MacBook as a mobile digital white board. Using the software Doceri, allows one to wirelessly control their computer and annotate on Powerpoints and PDF documents.
Many of the professors are surprised when they see the ease and capability of the iPad. Lisa Beene, chairperson of the behavioral sciences department, said she was nervous about receiving the iPad, but then impressed.
“Technology scared me at first,” said Beene. “But after meeting with our CIT staff and learning the capabilities of the iPad, I am going to do everything I can to make this part of my everyday teaching activities.”
“This is an enormous undertaking for the university and we know there will be challenges and possibly criticism,” said Mark Scott. “But, we have a responsibility to the students to prepare them for employment and to our faculty to help them with that preparation in the best way available. We believe this program to be one of the most progressive in the nation. Our vision is to lead the way in higher education innovation. We plan to continue to build upon the momentum created by our innovation. iKnow 2.0 will not only move toward a greater focus on mobile learning and technology, it will simply make the traditional classroom a thing of the past. We expect to enhance instruction and improve student-learning outcomes with our innovation. This program will allow us to continue that journey toward effective, relevant, and transparent use of technology in learning,” Mark Scott said.
In 2008, Freed-Hardeman pioneered integrating technology in the classroom with the iKnow initiative. With the development of mobile technology and the fusion of academics, highly trained faculty and the best students in the Southeast, FHU was repeatedly recognized as the leading technological university within the region and in the Southeast.
By Carl W. Brooks