Seton Hill University, one of the first campuses to board the Apple iPad bandwagon before the device was released in April, announced Aug. 23 that its art history students will use an iPad application that allows access to more than 40,000 sculptures and paintings.
The university’s art faculty and instructors will use the iPad application known as Art Authority in the campus’s Modern Art and Italian Renaissance Art courses.
University officials said the iPad app would offer students a way to review classic and modern artworks outside of class without relying on static images in textbooks.
“Being able to instantly access visual information streamlines instructional technology in a fun, exploratory way,” said Pati Beachley, associate professor of art and director of Seton Hill’s art program.
Officials at Seton Hill, a 2,000-student university in Greensburg, Pa., said in March that all incoming full-time freshmen would receive an iPad beginning in the fall 2010 semester. All other students will have a chance to opt into the iPad program, campus officials added.
The university “absorbed the cost of the iPad,” because putting Apple’s much-anticipated eReader devices in students’ hands marked a “strategic decision to shift resources and invest in technologies that optimize the students’ access to resources,” said Seton Hill President JoAnne Boyle.
Freshmen will pay a $500 technology fee starting in the fall 2010 semester, according to a university announcement.
Seton Hill was included on a national ranking of the five best colleges and universities for prospective students interested in mobile technology. The ranking was released by IvyWise, a New York-based counseling company.
The school’s partnership with Art Authority creators Open Door Networks Inc. and Project A Inc. will let students scroll through thousands of works of art from every era by the artist’s name or the artistic period.
Alan Oppenheimer, president of Oregon-based Open Door Networks, said when he heard about Seton Hill’s iPad policy, “we immediately realized what a great opportunity it was to understand how an app like Art Authority can supplement that type of learning environment, and how in turn that environment can supplement and evolve Art Authority.”
The Seton Hill-Art Authority deal provides exposure for the app’s developers, a useful supplement for art students, and a mobile tool that will draw student interest, making the agreement a “huge win-win-win situation, and the way of the future,” Oppenheimer said.
Maureen Vissat, an assistant professor of art at Seton Hill, said Art Authority’s artist biographical information and voluminous galleries of works from the Renaissance and modern eras would add a new visual element to course work.
In a statement, Vissat said Art Authority would “be a valuable tool to supplement traditional texts,” adding that she was “eager to work with students to discover how to make the art of the past more immediate and accessible.”
The iPad, which is Wi-Fi enabled, has 10 hours of battery life, features a 9.7-inch screen, weighs 1.5 lbs, and will use the iPhone operating system, grabbed attention from education technology advocates when Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the device in January.
The eReader’s color screen, technologists said, would force competitors to create graphically-engaging visuals that could make eReaders more accepted in higher education.
“I think this changes the picture for eBooks considerably,” Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, said in an interview with eCampus News when the details on the iPad were first announced. “This has a lot of potential for higher education. … [Apple] has really seemed to think through the book experience.”
On the flip side, students can’t print with the device, the lack of a USB port could be an impediment, and some observers believe the iPad isn’t quite ready for higher education.
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