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News @ Minnesota State University Moorhead

New initiative brings technology to the classroom

Posted on March 11, 2014

Music industry and school psychology students receive iPads

With mobile apps almost anything is possible.

Now apps made specifically for education have instructors in high schools and universities embracing the use of devices, such as iPads, in the classroom.

Students in MSUM’s music industry and school psychology programs were given iPads or iPad minis for the first time last fall. It was the first semester the university issued iPads to students for coursework; however, professor of music industry, Ryan Jackson, has been using iPads since they first hit the market a few years ago.

Jackson’s initial use of the device was for instructional purposes. “I was teaching in a room that didn’t have a whiteboard. We looked at the cost of a whiteboard and the cost of an iPad. It was more cost effective to use an iPad with a projector. Since that semester on, I’ve been saying we need to get these in the hands of our students when the infrastructure is ready,” Jackson said.

With support from the university, music industry students are now using their iPad minis for educational purposes. “In my recording class, they’re using their iPads as guitar amps and using it to record. The specificity of how we are using it brings higher enjoyment. A lot of my colleagues want to bring them in because of music theory or ear training apps. There are many benefits for using the iPads in our area.”

Music industry and school psychology have identified needs for the iPads and the apps they offer, giving students professional experiences. The value added to these departments through the use of iPads allows students to use them and bring them home at no cost.

For school psychology students, the iPad can be used to administer intelligence tests. Instead of traditional paper and pencil tests they now can use two iPads. Classroom observation apps provide structure and organization to an observational experience.

“For my second-year graduate students doing internships and entering schools full time next year, they are seeing that schools will expect them to have knowledge of these devices and apps,” Margaret Potter, professor in school psychology, said. “We are still on the leading edge, but it won’t be long before everyone will be expected to know their way around an iPad or similar device.”

For music industry, iPads are used in multiple facets—selling merchandise, taking payments, substituting as an instrument. “The quality is reasonable enough I’m not going to carry a 400-pound organ around to play. I can bring my iPad and plug in a two-pound keyboard. The majority of people aren’t going to be able to tell the difference besides the physical size. It’s become that good in the past few years,” Jackson said.

Jackson and Potter both say they are noticing the benefits for students. Jackson said as a direct result of using the device, last semester he was able to review the week before finals. Students told him the information he was sending through iTunes University reinforced what they were learning in class and helped them better understand their coursework. “Being able to deliver that much content, that frequently, to reinforce what’s going on in the classroom, makes a tremendous difference,” Jackson said.

The iPads also allow instant dissemination of information through Air Drop. Potter said there’s no need to print articles or handouts. Students can access everything they need online for discussion without leaving the classroom.

Potter and colleague Lisa Stewart presented on the school psychology program’s iPad initiative at a national conference of university educators in school psychology in February. Potter said MSUM may be the only graduate school psychology program in the country to have issued iPads to all on-campus students, and that the webmaster of the National Association of School Psychologists is interested in following MSUM’s experience with the iPads.

“He has requested further information on an evaluation rubric for educational apps developed by Stewart and graduate student, Adam Boles” she said.

As with any new initiative there is a learning curve as instructors find the best ways to implement iPads into the curriculum, but the music industry and school psychology programs are embracing the technology and learning as they go.

“I think we’re just scratching the surface,” Potter said.


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