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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Australian Pilot Program Recommends iPads in the Classroom

Trinity College, University of Melbourne, has released a report on the results of its
Step Forward iPad Pilot Project, which saw the iPad “test-driven” in classroom settings by select staff and students in the Trinity College Foundation Studies (TCFS) program, a one-year course that qualifies about 700 international students annually for undergraduate entry into the University of Melbourne and other Australian universities.

Issued iPads with wireless and 3G capability, faculty in nine academic disciplines and 44 students, along with some IT staff and administrators, evaluated the Apple device to determine whether its wider adoption would make sense for TCFS. Participants also tested several other devices, including laptops, netbooks, e-readers, and a Samsung Galaxy tablet with Android OS.

The results were overwhelmingly positive for the iPad. While noting that the device is an “enhancement” rather than a replacement for desktop/laptop computers or other educational technologies, 80% of students and 76% of staff said they would recommend the iPad for use by their peers at Trinity.

“I found the iPad helped us experience the world of learning from a greater range of vantage points and gave us more opportunities to meet individual learning needs,” said one participant.

Quality audiovisual equipment in the classroom, along with agile IT support, were cited as necessities to make the best use of the tablet.

The report’s final recommendations include allocating iPads to all TCFS staff this year, dedicating IT staff to iPad support, and rolling out iPads to all TCFS students in 2012.

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