By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The students of Goshen College’s May term Foundations of Education class got a welcome surprise last week with the announcement that the class would be the first to pilot the college’s recently announced plan to provide all first-year students with iPads.
The plan, first announced this past March, is part of GC’s new iCore technology initiative — a multi-year effort to help students, faculty and staff explore, develop and use cutting-edge mobile technology for educational purposes.
According to Richard Aguirre, director of public relations at GC, the original plan was not to begin distribution of the new iPads until this coming fall. Those plans changed slightly, however, when GC Associate Professor of Education Kevin Gary made the request to use the iPads in his May term Foundations of Education class.
“May term is basically an intensive focus on one subject, so students take just one May term class,” Aguirre said of the Foundations of Education class. “May term this year began April 25 and ends May 16. Kevin really wanted to use the iPads for his class, so we got those 26 iPad ready, and it’s going great.”
Now in their second week of May term, Gary said both he and his students have already found multiple uses for the new technology. Gary said he feels they have only just scratched the surface when it comes to utilizing the iPad to its full potential.
“It’s such a valuable tool,” Gary said during a break from teaching Thursday afternoon. “For example, the first day of class I had students teach something to each other for three minutes in groups of five, video tape themselves and immediately write a journal reflection on how they did, all using the iPad.”
Since then, Gary said the students have been able to create a personal blog about their experiences in education, upload videos of themselves teaching to their own private YouTube channel for review and critique, discover and download multiple apps for reading and researching educational topics, and much more.
“And they can do all of that right from their desks in class,” Gary said. “So as far as the art of teaching goes, it’s a really good tool.”
Aaron Frost, a freshman from Goshen currently enrolled in Gary’s Foundations of Education class, seemed to have only positive things to say about the new addition of the iPad to his classroom environment.
“It’s really cool. It’s a completely different experience,” Frost said of using the iPad in class. “It’s kind of distracting when you’re outside of class because you’ve got the opportunity to play all sorts of different games on it, get on Facebook, stuff like that. But for educational purposes, I think it’s doing a wonderful job. It just makes everything easier, faster and more organized.”
Connor Bontrager, a fellow freshman classmate from Syracuse, was quick to agree.
“It’s a lot more handy than a regular computer because you can carry it around, it doesn’t take up much space, and you can get on it whenever you want,” Bontrager said. “I mean, I use it for everything now. And I love having it in class, because if you’re not sure about something, you can just look it up. So yeah, I would definitely say it’s a good thing for the college.”