Science faculty to enhance first-year learning with iPads

All students enrolling in a first-year undergraduate Science program at the University of Adelaide for 2011 will receive a free Apple iPad.
Image courtesy of Apple.

All students enrolling in a first-year undergraduate Science program at the University of Adelaide for 2011 will receive a free Apple iPad.
Image courtesy of Apple.

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Saturday, 11 September 2010

The University of Adelaide's Faculty of Sciences is leading the charge in Australia to replace traditional textbooks and other teaching materials in first year with online study tools.

As part of the move, all students enrolled in the first year of an undergraduate Science program at the University for 2011 will receive a free Apple iPad.

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Professor Bob Hill, says the aim is to reinvigorate the learning experience for students studying science at the University of Adelaide and make it 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," he says.

"Our teaching material will be more accessible, more relevant and more frequently updated, providing the flexible learning environment that students are looking for."

Professor Hill says providing each new first-year student with an iPad as part of their core learning tools will transform their educational experience on campus.

"We want to base science teaching around the big questions for the future, such as climate change and food security. This approach will demonstrate the huge potential through technology for students thinking about their options for tertiary study, and how they can make an impact on their world.

"The combination of technology rich science study from first year and the access to cutting-edge research provides the perfect environment for students to launch rewarding careers in so many areas."

The roll out of the iPad enhanced curriculum will start with the 2011 intake of first-year science students.

"This is a long-term initiative. It will take a couple of years to phase out all the printed textbooks and review and transfer all of the content to the iPad. 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.

"By 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 see the significant benefits of the iPad enhanced curriculum," Professor Hill says.


Questions and Answers - iPad enhanced learning at the University of Adelaide's Faculty of Sciences

What is iPad enhanced learning at the University of Adelaide?
iPad enhanced learning harnesses the portability, flexibility and cost effectiveness of the Apple iPad technology to deliver outstanding online course content, including textbooks, in the University of Adelaide's Faculty of Sciences. To achieve this bold new approach to teaching, the University of Adelaide is providing an Apple iPad to each first year student in the Faculty of Sciences from 2011. This means that hundreds of students will receive an iPad as part of their core learning tools.

Has any other Australian university taken this large-scale approach to iPad enhanced learning?
The University of Adelaide is the first Australian university to use iPads as an essential classroom teaching tool on this scale.

What are the students saying about how they would like to be taught?
Science students increasingly are looking for more flexible, relevant and up-to-date teaching methods. The iPad enhanced learning is designed to give Faculty of Sciences students what they want, and also providing the kind of quality teaching that they need.

Will textbooks eventually be phased out in Sciences at the University of Adelaide?
The aim is to transfer all learning content to an electronic version which includes many currently printed textbooks for first-year students sometime in 2012.

Does this do away with face-to-face teaching?
No. iPad enhanced learning in the Faculty of Sciences will complement face-to-face teaching not replace it. It will make the educational experience more flexible for the student and can also provide a greater level of interactivity in the classroom thereby improving student engagement and academic outcomes.

How will the online material be presented on the iPad?
The online material will take a variety of forms with students being able to access lecture notes, audio, background documents and textbooks through tailored web-based apps. This is in addition to all the student services currently available through the MyUni website such as timetabling, video downloads, slides and email.

When do the students receive their iPads?
First-year science students will receive the iPad when they enrol at the beginning of the 2011 academic year.

Does the iPad belong to the student?
The iPad will remain the property of the Faculty of Sciences until 31 March 2011. This is the cut-off date for students to decide whether or not they want to continue with their studies. After that date, if the student continues to study Science, the ownership of the iPad transfers to the student. Students who discontinue their science studies prior to 31 March 2011 will need to return the iPad.

Will students receive training in how to use the iPad?
Yes. Each student will receive training in how to use the iPad in general and in relation to their particular course curriculum at the University of Adelaide.

Will students be able to complete their science degree without an iPad?
Yes. Students will be able to access the teaching materials via a standard computer/laptop or in a printed copy however the iPad will enhance their learning experience significantly.

What about teaching staff?
First-year Sciences teaching staff will be provided with an iPad and professional development to ensure that they are well prepared to deliver the courses through the new technology.

What if students already own an iPad - will they be given cash or some other device instead?
Students can use their own iPad if they wish, however there is no plan to offer an alternative educational device or subsidy at this stage.

I'm studying Computer Science and/or Mathematical Sciences - do I get an iPad too?
The iPad enhanced curriculum is to be rolled out in the Faculty of Sciences in 2011. The importance of linking learning, research and technology in science has meant that only students enrolled in the Faculty of Sciences will benefit from this initiative in the first roll out. The courses mentioned above are delivered through the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences and are therefore not part of the first roll out in 2011. Extending iPad enhanced learning to other academic areas within the University will be considered following evaluation of this first roll out.

How will students at other year levels in the Faculty of Science benefit from iPad enhanced learning?
As this is a new initiative, the primary focus is the first-year student intake for 2011 and the course content for this group of students. Further development of the iPad enhanced curriculum at other year levels will be considered following evaluation of this first roll out.

Will the iPads be 3G capable?
Yes, the iPads will be 3G capable, but if a student wishes to activate the 3G capability they will need to pay for it.

What science programs are included in the iPad Enhanced Learning initiative?
First-year students enrolled in one of the following science programs at the University of Adelaide will receive an iPad as part of the iPad enhanced learning initiative in 2011:

Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences B.AgSc
Bachelor of Food and Nutrition Science B.Food&NutSc
Bachelor of Science B.Sc
Bachelor of Science (Advanced) - new program for 2011
Bachelor of Science (Animal Science) B.Sc (AS)
Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) B.Sc(BioS)
Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) B.Sc(Biot)
Bachelor of Science (EcoChemistry) B.Sc(EcoC)
Bachelor of Science (Evolutionary Biology) B.Sc(EvoB)
Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) B.Sc (MB)
Bachelor of Science (Mineral Geoscience) B.Sc(MiGe)
Bachelor of Science (Molecular Biology) B.Sc(MolB)
Bachelor of Science (Molecular and Drug Design) B.Sc(M&DD)
Bachelor of Science (Nanoscience & Materials) B.Sc(NScM)
Bachelor of Science (Natural Resources) B.Sc (NR)
Bachelor of Science (Optics & Photonics) B.Sc(OptP)
Bachelor of Science (Petroleum Geoscience) B.Sc (PG)
Bachelor of Science (Pre-Veterinary) B.Sc(PV)
Bachelor of Science (Space Sc & Astrophysics) B.Sc(SSAP)
Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology B.VO
Bachelor of Wine Marketing B.WineMkg
Honours Degree of Bachelor of Science in High Performance Computational Physics HBScHPCPhy


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