I attended a Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) event last week Friday. The title of the event was “Smart Devices for Learning: using smartphones, tablets and apps to enhance learning” which was relevant to the BJET iPad project. I was fortunate to get a slot as I was one of the last two to register for the event. The event was so popular that it had a waiting list of over 60 individuals in case someone dropped out. The event provided me the opportunity to network with other academics and also to learn about how they are using tablets for academic practices.
The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) are doing some interesting work with academics using iPads. I spoke with Robin Gissing, a TEL advisor and author of the ‘Mobile Device Evaluation Project: Phase 1 Report’ on the differences between SHU and University of Huddersfield (UoH) in relation to distribution of iPads to staff members and students.
The devices are loaned out at SHU hence staff book them, use them in the classrooms and return them back to the TEL team. This means that the TEL team is responsible for managing about 30 iPads at any given time. UoH does not have a loan management system in place as all the institutionally provided iPads have been given to the academics not loaned to them. It is a more expensive option but it does provide the academics the opportunity to own and personalise the iPads. Survey responses reveal that though the iPads are relatively easy to use; all the academics I have interviewed so far found that they learnt more about the iPad when they played with them at home not just in the office or classroom.
It would be interesting to interview some SHU academics on the strengths and limitations of using loaned iPads and compare their experiences with that of UoH academics issued these devices for both personal and professional uses.
I have captured some of the MELSIG tweets (link below) posted during the event using storify so you can get a taste of the key observations and ideas generated by other delegates.