Campus survives the ‘iPad jitters’

Two-thirds of Seton Hill faculty members say they frequently use the iPad in class.

Putting Apple iPads in the hands of every student and professor on a PC-based campus required some convincing, but a year later, Seton Hill University officials said the tablet program has changed the way classes are taught.

Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pa., a small campus of about 2,400 students, drew international attention in 2009 when officials there said every student and educator would receive an iPad just after the tablet was announced.

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Other schools, from research campuses like Oklahoma State University to small institutions like Washington College in Chestertown, Md., followed Seton Hill’s lead and experimented with a limited number of iPads.

During a session at EduComm 2011, an annual educational technology conference in Orlando, three Seton Hill decision makers who oversaw the iPad rollout said the device has remained popular among students and staff, even though most educators weren’t among the Apple faithful.

“It was controversial because many of our faculty were actually diehard Windows, PC-based computer users,” said Mary Spataro, an instructional designer at Seton Hill. “We [had] the iPad jitters. We wondered, ‘Can we do this?’”

Spataro said faculty members underwent extensive professional development before iPads were released campus wide. The training process, she said, gave professors a chance to help each other which functions and applications would work best for various courses.

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