iPads herald new era for science
A new approach to learning and an advanced-level Bachelor degree are two ways in which Science is being reinvigorated for students at the University of Adelaide.
The University of Adelaide's Faculty of Sciences is leading the charge in Australia to eventually replace traditional textbooks and paper-based teaching materials.
As part of the move, new first-year students in undergraduate Sciences degree programs in 2011 will receive a free Apple iPad.
The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Professor Bob Hill, said the aim of the trial was to revitalise the learning experience for students studying science at the University of Adelaide and make science more appealing as a highly sought after and diverse career pathway.
"I believe this approach will revolutionise the way science is taught at the University of Adelaide. We will be the first university in Australia to teach in this innovative way," Professor Hill said.
"Our teaching material will be more accessible, more relevant and more frequently updated, providing the flexible learning environment that students are looking for. The aim is for the new technology to increase student-teacher interaction."
Professor Hill said providing first-year students with an iPad as part of their core learning tools would transform their educational experience on campus. The roll out of the iPad-enhanced curriculum will start as a trial with the 2011 intake of first-year science students.
"This is a long-term initiative," Professor Hill said. "It will take a couple of years to phase out all the printed textbooks and review and transfer all of the content online. This process will start under the leadership of first-year directors for Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Geology, coordinated by one of the University's award-winning teaching staff, Associate Professor Karin Barovich.
"From 2012 onwards, we expect to roll out fully online versions of our first-year Science courses. Students enrolling in a Science course in 2011 will be the very first to trial the significant benefits of the iPad-enhanced curriculum," he said.
The iPads will be offered to commencing first-year students who enrol in a minimum of two semester 1 courses in an undergraduate Sciences degree program for 2011.
Meanwhile, the Faculty of Sciences has launched a new degree for 2011 that aims to provide a focus for students interested in high-level science.
With a minimum Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 95, the new Bachelor of Science (Advanced) is designed for high-achieving students who want to develop their research skills.
"This new program gives students who are passionate about science an early opportunity to get involved in the academic and research culture of the University," Professor Hill said.
"As the name suggests, students who undertake this degree program will receive advanced access to activities and opportunities normally only accessible to Honours and postgraduate students. At the same time, the degree still provides students with the choice and flexibility of the current Bachelor of Science."
Professor Hill said research placements and lab attachments would form part of the degree program, introducing students to state-of-the-art laboratories where they can gain practical experience and develop their skills.
"We want to base science teaching around the big questions for the future, such as climate change and food security. We want our students thinking about how they can make an impact on their world, and understanding how science can help them to achieve that," he said.
"The combination of technology-rich science study from first year and the access to a cutting-edge research environment offers the perfect grounding for students to launch rewarding careers in so many areas."
For more information about the iPad-enhanced learning initiative or the new Bachelor of Science (Advanced), go to: www.sciences.adelaide.edu.au
Story by Kate Husband and David Ellis