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iLearn@Olivet expands to School of Education and Art & Digital Media

Posted: Jul 16, 2014

Lillian iPad

Olivet’s School of Music has just completed a successful inaugural year of iLearn@Olivet — the first distribution of the iPad in the University’s history and one of the first iPad deployments in the country designed specifically to empower students and faculty while transforming the education landscape. In fall 2014, Olivet's School of Education and the Department of Art & Digital Media will be joining the initiative.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of technology in higher education,” says Dr. Dennis Crocker, vice president for academic affairs. “We are especially pleased with the opportunities and experiences this initiative brings to our students.”

For the School of Education, this means the launching of an innovative method of course delivery through the use of technology. The initiative is designated to enhance Olivet’s Teacher Education Program in course delivery and equipping students for success, as well as preparing them for the edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment), a national multiple-measure assessment required by the Illinois State Board of Education. Gaining this experience with iPad will also help prepare them for the expanded use of technology as a teaching and learning method.

For the Department of Art and Digital Media, iPad use will be an excellent tool for students, especially in the studio courses, as they create electronic thumbnail drawings/concepts for their assignments. In many courses, they will use iMovies to describe and document the process of creating their artwork — which will also enhance their portfolios. When used for research, iPad will provide additional information about specific works of art and topics for class discussion, enriching courses with new content.

For the School of Music, iPad content and usage is tailored for specific needs as iPad is now being used for all band, orchestra, choral and instrumental ensemble music scores, ebooks, note-taking and email. Right at the students’ fingertips are countless thoughtful and innovative applications of the technology, including field formation diagraming, vocal coaching, and recording apps and solutions. In some instances, students don’t even have to lift a finger as the department now has 50 AirTurn Bluetooth page turning devices for use with iPad, which allows instrumentalists to turn the pages of their music wirelessly with the use of a foot pedal.

As the 2014–2015 academic year begins in August, in the next phase of this initiative, nearly 1,000 students, staff and faculty have received or will receive their devices. Students purchase their own devices at a discounted price through the University, as part of their tuition and fees.

Setting a new pace for education

Working with Olivet’s information technology staff to implement this initiative, faculty determined that iPad is the best technology available for transforming the teaching and learning experience. Getting iPad into the hands of the faculty, staff and students is fundamentally transforming the higher education experience for them.

To enhance iPad usage, Larsen Fine Arts Center, home of the School of Music and the art and digital design department, now has more than twice as many WiFi access points throughout the building. The Weber Center, where the School of Education is based, will also have a vastly increased number of WiFi access points installed. Also, several of the smart classrooms will be upgraded to support both wired and wireless iPad connections. These improvements are scheduled to be completed in August 2014.

Catching the excitement

“For Olivet’s education majors, the iPad will be an instrumental tool in assisting teacher candidates as they prepare for edTPA, a new multi-measure teacher performance assessment required by the Illinois State Board of Education,” says Dr. Bob Hull, dean of the School of Education. “Students and faculty will also implement this new technology to improve teaching effectiveness and student learning. Professor Lance Kilpatrick and Professor Marianne Glenn are taking the lead in assisting them as they incorporate iPad into their daily routines.”

“For art majors, the iPad is going to be a great asset, especially in terms of being able to show our work to people without having to carry around a whole studio's worth of tools,” says Paul Matthews (senior, graphic design major, Dubuque, Iowa). “They will also help with watching videos of how to technically create a piece of artwork, like how to throw a piece of clay on a pottery wheel or how to shade an area of a drawing.”

Zach Kohlmeier, an adjunct professor in the School of Music and an employee in the information technology department, is especially enjoying the merging of iPad technology and music in this initiative. He began using his iPad during when he played piano at church and for musicals. “I just pushed a button once to turn a page of music, and I didn’t have to worry about pages getting blown by the wind,” he says.

As Zach puts it so well: “Technology is moving forward, and Olivet is at the forefront.”