Tablet initiative expanding in number of students, more majors soon

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Tablet initiative expanding in number of students, more majors soon

File photo/The Sundial

File photo/The Sundial

File photo/The Sundial

File photo/The Sundial

Pete D. Camarillo

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 Matt Owens, 21, a junior in marketing, reviews a power point lecture on his  iPad about "Marketing Planning," in the west wing of the Oviatt Library on Monday, March 3, 2014. In background Werner Hanneman, a junior in systems and operations Management, studies for his classes. (Photo Credit: David J. Hawkins / Photo Editor)

Matt Owens, 21, a junior in marketing, reviews a power point lecture on his iPad about “Marketing Planning,” in the west wing of the Oviatt Library on Monday, March 3, 2014. In background Werner Hanneman, a junior in systems and operations Management, studies for his classes. (Photo Credit: David J. Hawkins / Photo Editor)

Corrections:
Students can check out iPads at the library for free, not rent them.
The iPad initiative is trying to connect to the e-text initiative, not e-tech.

The MyCSUNtablet initiative grew in number of students in its second full semester of installation.

The number of students enrolled in iPad-only classes this semester increased to 1,700 compared to almost 1,000 students during fall of 2013, said Elizabeth Adams, vice president of undergraduate affairs.

Adams also said the spring semester was the first semester the department of health sciences offered iPad classes.

“Health science folk hit the ground in a positive way,” Adams said.

Adams said the faculty who taught iPad classes in the fall got better in the spring. She expects the trend to continue, as faculty continue adapting quickly to iPad courses.

“As you do something, you get better,” Adams said.

Last semester, CSUN started the myCSUNtablet initiative to give students access to iPads as an integrated part of the curriculum.

Currently, CSUN offers tablet curriculum classes in programs including biology, engineering and computer science, journalism, liberal studies, public health, physical therapy and kinesiology.

In partnership with Apple, the program increases students’ access to tablets as they prepare for integration with technology in the career field. As designed, the program is supposed to give students continuous access to taped lectures, videos, instruction apps, e-books, and other “always-on” teaching materials through the use of tablets, according to the MyCSUNtablet webpage.

“We wanted to understand how to use technology in the classroom rather than have someone else do it,” Adams said about the initiative.

Adams was unsure how many of the 1,700 students enrolled in spring were taking in an iPad class for the second semester. However, she was positive about the initiatives’ progress.

“Student assessments [from the fall] show students learn better when iPads are used effectively, which is good news,” Adams said

Adams said students enjoy when iPads are an integrated into everyday parts of the classroom.

Students had their own reservations about the effectiveness of iPads in the classroom.

Hakob Manvelyan, senior biology major, said he does not think iPads are integrated into class properly.

“It seems like there are no core of requirements,” Manvelyan said. “They’re just like, ‘here’s an iPad, go at it.’”

Aziz Abadsafian, senior biology major, believes having a tablet is unnecessary in his evolutionary biology class.

“Why does it have to be an iPad?” Abadsafian said. “Everything could be done on a laptop.” in his Evolutionary Biology class.”

Classmates Manvelyan and Abadsafian both agreed that 75 percent of their evolutionary biology class is spent on technical issues. They said they would rather have more time lecturing about material rather than learning how to use an iPad.

Abadsafian said his genetics class, which uses iPads to do fine drawings on diagrams, to express his frustration with the integration of iPads in the classroom.

“Neither of the (two) simulations work on Apple,” Abadsafian said. “A stylus is nowhere near as fine-point as pencil.”

Jacqueline Blanco, junior biology major, is also taking the genetics class. She said having the iPad is more efficient to take notes on slides and uploading answers for quizzes.

“(I enjoy) being fully engaged in the classroom,” Blanco said.

Taquel Graves, senior biology major and Blanco’s classmate, agreed with Blanco and said the iPad helps her keep focused.

“(The class is) keeping me more awake and active in class because we’re doing assignments on the iPad,” Graves said.

Cynthia Kay-Nishiyama’s, professor of the genetics class, had more positive thoughts in their iPad class. Besides class assignments, lectures and quizzes, Kay-Nishiyama said students also use the “educreations” application to create their own diagrams on the iPad.

Kay-Nishiyama said it is her first iPad class, but that they have been a useful resource in her classroom so far. She said the iPad assignments are a useful resource to give her immediate feedback.

“I see how students understand and retain material because assignments are done in class,” Kay-Nishiyama said.

Kay-Nishiyama said having a tablet-based class is a learning experience for her as well as the students. The iPads can be frustrating for students as it takes more time when technology does not work properly, Kay-Nishiyama said.

“It poses technological problems for students to work through,”  Kay-Nishiyama said.

The MyCSUNtablet courses require students to have an iPad or iPad mini with 32gbs of storage and iOS7, according to the program’s website. If students do not already have an iPad then they can purchase one from the bookstore, or students can opt for two- to three-semester payment installments.

Students can also rent iPads from the library, but only for a week at a time. They are encouraged to purchase AppleCare extended warranty, and can take ipads to the campus bookstore for problems. For other support, students can direct questions to IT.

The initiative exposes students students to new technology and saves them money on traditional supplies like pencils, papers, calculators and textbooks, as the learning experience is enhanced with new tools like the iPad, according to the webpage.

Abadsafian said he is not sold on iPads saving students money. Pencils and scantrons do not cost a fraction of what an iPad costs, he said.

“We’re still buying codes and books, how is it cheaper?” Abadsafian said about the iPad eliminating expensive textbooks. “They ask us to carry less books, but I never brought them anyways.”

Manvelyan said he received his iPad as a gift, but his biggest problem was the curriculum forcing him to use it.

“We were never asked if we were okay, but school tells me I have to buy it,” Manvelyan said.

Abadsafian also worries about the school forcing students to buy it.

“CSUN is not full of wealthy students,” Abadsafian said. “Most of students are commuters who can’t buy gas or food. Asking to buy an iPad is too much.”

Next fall, the program will expand to special education, graduate program and psychology classes aside for majors.

“Right now faculty are working on how to transform their curriculum,” Adams said about the progress of the program into this fall. “We’ll have iPads in almost every college with the exception of business.”

Adams said faculty in those departments are actively working to adapt iPads as part of the curriculum.

“We’re working with faculty to help students get bang for their buck,” Adams said.

Adams said further expansion of myCSUNtablet courses has to come from faculty proposals.

iPads are only the start as myCSUNtablet can expand to other tablets, according to the program webpage. There are plans for growing the initiative, but Adams said it is important to have some time before expanding.

“We’re sticking to iPads to give it some time,” Adams said. “There are only so many resources.. (Further expansion) is hard support in a technical way.”

In addition to iPads, Adams said myCSUNtablet has been focused on connecting to the e-tech initiative, which is a separate program used to help faculty create free or low-cost text in e-books. The program is not limited to iPads, which means faculty can create e-books for other tablets, Adams said.

Although there has been a focus on the e-tech program, Adams said it has been a slow process because it takes time for faculty to create a text.

Adams said there is room for improvement with the myCSUNtablet initiative, but she feels the process has been interesting and she is excited about its progress.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Adams said.