Apple is a “Digital First”
Why are Apple products such strong contenders in the educational technology revolution? Is it simply their sex appeal for young hipsters? I don’t think so. It’s real innovation, innovation to which people respond in remarkable ways. From all the iPad apps that developers have been creating, it’s not hard not to see why the company has become a centerpiece of educational and cultural change at Ohio State University. They call their new classroom experience “Digital First”, which is “enhancing teaching and student learning with technology including iPads, iTunes U and iBooks Author.” One of the concepts behind OSU’s new movement is essentially flipping the classroom. Another is giving an iPad to all faculty and staff for communication and teaching purposes.
Education Flipped On It’s Head
Let’s talk about flipping the classroom. When first reading this term, it’s hard to discern exactly what it means. In a classroom, there is a lecture written and spoken by the professor for roughly the whole class. By the time the lecture is over with, there is little time to do class work or have a discussion. Because of this, students are forced to not only do homework but also some of the class work outside of school. Flipping reverses this order, leaving the lecturing to outside of class, while all the discussion and classwork actually takes place inside the classroom where students can benefit from guidance and direct interaction with teaching staff.
It’s almost like a virtual classroom, minus everyone being able to interact at once. Instead, the professor of a class (in OSU’s case, the chemistry professors) record their lectures and post them to iTunes U. The students who signed up for the class download the entire semester of class lectures. Then, on a couple of nights before the class, the students watch the assigned lectures and, all of a sudden, everything that was never before completed in class is. Topics that were poorly understood during the lectures can be teased out with the professor and with peers. Discussions in class lead to more learning and an overall better educational experience.
As for iPads, the school hopes to one day have a budget that allows all students to have one. As for right now, the faculty has them and also they’ve been given on loan to the athletic department. At first, this seems unreasonable; how will a free iPad help some with physical training? As it turns out, the athletic department has been using their technology for a certain reason: they are “developing iBooks to provide more user-friendly access to athletic department resources, digital course materials and tools to enable mobile coursework.” There has been no backing down as of yet. Every digital first that has been put into the school has succeeded far beyond expectations. The same innovation and risk-taking that have made Apple such a force both in education and the broader market are finally finding a home in schools which, in the past, have been glacially slow to implement technology initiatives.