ARCHIVED: Completed project: iPad Faculty Learning Communities: Exploring innovative teaching and learning with the Apple iPad

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Primary UITS contact: John Gosney

Completed: May 1, 2012

Description: The primary goal of a faculty learning community (FLC) is to explore a specific topic area or theme as it relates to best practices in teaching and learning. This goal is achieved by providing safe, supportive communities wherein members can engage in research, scholarship of teaching and learning, and service to explore new approaches to teaching. Faculty learning communities will convene during the fall 2010 semester on both the IUB and IUPUI campuses to explore innovative uses of the Apple iPad to address these diverse goals.

Outcome: This FLC includes a specific focus on how mobile tablets, specifically the Apple iPad, can enhance teaching and learning across a wide variety of disciplines/areas of interest. The FLC is intended to encourage faculty to explore whether mobile tablet technology enhances or enables our ability to:

  • Promote student engagement in the classroom, the lab, or in the field
  • Assist small group collaboration in idea creation and sharing or information search, analysis, and visual representation
  • Provide access to and manipulation of digital content, including open e-textbook content initiatives

An Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) brief, describing the work of all three faculty learning communities, has been published. The brief, entitled "Empowering Students and Instructors: Reflections on the Effectiveness of iPads for Teaching and Learning", can be found here.

Milestones and status:

  • Late June 2010: FLC call for applications sent to IUB and IUPUI faculty via respective teaching center LISTSERVs Completed
  • Early July 2010: InfoShares on FLC for interested faculty to learn more about the project given at both IUB and IUPUI Completed
  • August 2, 2010: Deadline for faculty applications Completed
  • August 16, 2010: Successful applicants notified; see list (below) of accepted applicants for IUB and IUPUI FLCs. Completed
  • Fall semester 2010: FLC on each campus convenes every two weeks to explore innovative uses of the iPad in teaching and learning Completed
  • January 2011: Preliminary report on FLC findings submitted Completed
  • June 2011: Final report on FLC findings submitted Completed
  • August 2011: The IUB and IUPUI faculty learning communities have decided to continue their work through the 2011-2012 academic year, including publishing a call for new members. Continuing and newly accepted FLC members will be able to reserve up to 20 iPads for classroom projects and research. These iPads come preloaded with a variety of applications. Upon completion of a preliminary project report due in January 2012, each new FLC member will receive a $750 stipend for professional development needs, such as resources for use of the iPad and travel to conferences to present findings.

Accepted applicants for IUB Faculty Learning Community:

  • Joshua Danish, Assistant Professor, Counseling and Educational Psychology, School of Education
  • Jonathan Elmer, Professor and Department Chair, College of Arts and Sciences - English
  • Joseph Pomerening, Assistant Professor, College of Arts and Sciences - Biology
  • Leslie Sharpe, Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences - Fine Arts
  • Martin Siegel, Professor, School of Informatics
  • Anne Pyburn, Professor, College of Arts and Sciences - Anthropology
  • Simon Brassell, Professor, College of Arts and Sciences - Geological Sciences
  • Emily Okada, Associate Librarian, Reference Department - Indiana University Libraries

Accepted applicants for IUPUI Faculty Learning Community:

  • Jennifer Nelson, Lecturer, School of Science, Department of Earth Sciences
  • Jefferson Streepey, Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Education, School of Physical Education and Tourism Management
  • Willie Miller, Assistant Librarian, University Library/Professional Programs Team
  • Tim Diemer, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Computer, Information and Leadership Technology, School of Engineering and Technology
  • Jonathan Rossing, Lecturer, School of Liberal Arts - Department of Communication Studies
  • Amanda Cecil, Assistant Professor, School of Physical Education and Tourism Management
  • Suzan Stamper, Senior Lecturer, School of Liberal Arts - English
  • E.J. Choe, Assistant Professor, Department of Music and Arts Technology, School of Engineering and Technology

Accepted applicants for IUPUI Health Sciences Faculty Learning Community:

  • Patricia Scott, Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Alexander Djuricich, MD, Associate Professor, Clinical Pediatrics and Clinical Medicine, IUSM
  • Debra Wood, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Lab Science, IUSM
  • Susan Robinson, Associate Professor, Department of Radiologic and Imaging Sciences, IUSM
  • Deborah Stiffler, Associate Professor, Nursing/Family Health and Medicine/OB-GYN
  • Melissa Carpentier, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, IUSM
  • Erika Galyean, Professor, School of Social Work
  • Rakesh Mehta, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Department of Medicine, IUSM

Comment process: Direct FLC questions or comments to John Gosney, faculty liaison for Learning Technologies, UITS.

Benefits: The iPad holds tremendous potential in changing how both faculty and students think about teaching and learning. From an exploration of the writings of Edgar Allen Poe utilizing skills essential for an understanding of contemporary media, to a cost-effective (and pedagogically engaging) method for the study of geosciences and archaeology, those applicants who were accepted into the IUB and IUPUI iPad Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) represent a diverse range of interests and disciplines. However, all of the successful applicants share a common goal: to challenge conventional definitions of teaching and learning by taking advantage of the iPad's ability to extend learning both within and outside the traditional physical classroom.

This extension of the traditional learning space will, based on the suggested projects of the applicants, take a variety of forms. Certainly, a major goal of many of the applications is to take advantage of the iPad's unique interface and allow students to interact and engage with curriculum. From the workings of complex biological processes to best practices in staging large conventions, providing students a tool that encourages (indeed, demands) more experiential reflection on their learning is an intriguing pedagogical application of the iPad that is, arguably, not possible with other devices. Additionally, the potential use of discipline-specific applications will suggest even more opportunities for how these devices might be utilized.

Other common elements highlighted across the accepted applications include:

  • Using the iPad's wireless connectivity to enhance individual study and group collaboration, both in and outside the traditional classroom
  • Exploring how the iPad's ability to serve as a mobile platform for gathering data (from classroom projects to field studies to lab work) might help to reinforce and clarify didactic components of various disciplines
  • Using the iPad's touch interface to help represent complex data and processes in a visual context, including processes as diverse as essay construction and principles of biomechanics
  • Designing and applying electronic textbooks, including study of how the iPad might be used as a conduit for linking of previously self-contained library and research materials with real-time reflection on a specific discussion topic
  • Reimagining conventional thinking of how mobility, space, and technology can interact to provide new opportunities for teaching and learning

In addition to the work of these multi-discipline FLCs, an additional "Health Sciences FLC" will include faculty from the School of Medicine as well as the School of Social Work. This FLC will investigate how the iPad might be utilized as a means of collecting and accessing patient information (bedside and in remote/rural locations), visualizing clinical data, enhancing understanding of complex material through concept mapping software, and better facilitating complex "hands off" processes as patients transfer from one health care provider to another.

Client impact: As noted above, use of the iPad in a classroom instructional technology context could suggest a significant change in how faculty and students think about collaborative teaching and learning. Related to this, the iPad also has promise as a reading device for electronic textbooks (as well as a method of reviewing, creating, and responding to other instructional material and media).

Examples of early projects on the IUB campus include:

  • Assistant Professor Joshua Danish is using the iPad Twitter app with his School of Education students to extend the class conversation and further engage students with course material. Students were asked to download a diagram, and alter it to fit their mental model. Danish then projected the student diagrams using Keynote (another iPad app) as a drawing and file-handling tool. To further assist in file organization, the Keynote app also integrates with Oncourse Resources via WebDAV.
  • Professor Marty Siegel from the School of Informatics is studying whether the iPads might be suitable for a new kind of textbook. Students participated in a simulation where they were asked to design a new learning app for Apple and make a team presentation.
  • Associate Professor Leslie Sharpe is teaching a Fine Arts studio class that is exploring the iPad in mobile and locative art. Students did research and experiments before creating works for an exhibit to be showcased at the end of the year.
  • Professor Simon Brassell is using the iPads in the Geology classroom. Rocks are arranged to mimic a natural pattern of outcrops so that students can migrate through the space, and access/record information about each sample on the iPad. The iPad apps used in this class include Compass, Clinometer, and Air Sketch.

Promising early findings in the IUPUI Health Sciences FLC include:

  • Associate Professor Patty Scott has introduced Concept Mapping via the iPad to her students in a research course. Working with a graduate student from HITS (working on the project with Scott as part of a Master's thesis), early indications are that use of the iPad will result in strong concept maps.
  • Associate Professor Susan Robinson is downloading radiologic images and videotaping images with the Flip camera, then placing them on the iPad for additional analysis. Results of Professor Robinson's work were recently published in the November/December 2011 edition of Radiologic Technology.
  • Clinical Assistant Professor Debra Wood is making videos of tissue preparation so the students can watch said videos on the iPad. Wood's interest in this approach is whether it will help students with effective preparation of pathology slides, as they can watch the videos while they're working.
  • Associate Professor and MD Alex Djuricich is working on two projects. In the first project, he wants to use the iPad to improve the hand-off of patient information from one resident to an on-call resident. Djuricich's other project is looking to develop patient education video materials (along with existing material) to help improve patient understanding of various procedures and treatments, e.g., how to properly use an inhaler for the treatment of asthma.

The IUPUI campus FLC is reporting some early advantages to using the iPad in the classroom:

  • Assistant Professor Amanda Cecil is teaching a Global Tourism Seminar where students are exploring and evaluating the use of many travel and destination applications geared to tourists. For her Mechanics of Meeting Planning course, students are using iPads to view virtual venue tours, select meeting sites, design rooms, plan menus, and create staffing grids for meetings and events.
  • Assistant Professor E.J. Choe is using the iPads in her musicianship courses. Students participate in novel activities to train them to measure intervals and hear the difference between two notes sounding together or in part.
  • Clinical Assistant Professor Tim Diemer is exploring the uses of the iPad for creating and accessing open source learning modules.
  • Assistant Librarian Willie Miller is using iPads in Journalism Learning Communities to help teach academic honesty (specifically when and how to cite another's work). Students in Informatics Learning Communities are using the iPad app, Popplet, to foster creative and critical thinking.
  • Lecturer Jennifer Nelson uses iPads in her Introduction to Oceanography classes. Working in small groups, students use the iPads to examine tidal data for selected US coastlines and, later, to explore the coastlines' depositional and erosional features.
  • Lecturer Jonathan Rossing has his Communication Studies students explore mapping of connections between communication theories and real-life scenarios with the iPad apps Popplet and iBrainstorm. Students also explore news apps and websites, and record finding and reactions using note apps.
  • Senior Lecturer Suzan Stamper has iPads to enhance the study skills of international undergraduate and graduate students and to promote active learning for improving their English grammar, reading, listening, speaking, writing, and vocabulary.
  • Assistant Professor Jefferson Streepey uses the native accelerometers of the iPads to have his Biomechanics students record and analyze human movement.

IUB FLC abstracts:

Joshua A. Danish, Learning Sciences, primarily used the iPad in graduate level courses in the fall. In the spring, Danish collaborated with a graduate student (Asmalina Saleh) to bring the iPad into undergraduate Learning Theory courses. They ultimately created a visual representation of a case study (boxes of words) for students to annotate in a paint program, and asked students to conduct web searches while using the Diigo bookmarklet to annotate and save bookmarks.

The first exercise was geared toward helping students understand behaviorism and explore aspects of the case studies. The second activity was geared toward helping students distinguish between cognition and metacognition by directing someone using the iPad.

Simon Brassell, Geological Sciences, used iPads to construct a geological map as part of the culminating lab exercise for an introductory geosciences class in fall 2010 (G104, Evolution of the Earth). In spring 2011, Brassell incorporated iPads into two other exercises that involved 1) investigation of topographic and geological maps using Google Earth and 2) interpretation of geological structures in block diagrams using the Air Sketch app.

Students compared a printed geologic map with a Google Earth satellite image to identify the specific stratigraphic unit that is quarried locally for limestone. The Air Sketch app enabled students to depict stratigraphic units, and helped them relate the extent of individual rock layers at the surface and in the subsurface via three-dimensional representations. Brassell's class also used Clinometer for measurement of the dips of rock specimens, and Dropbox for file import and export via a shared class account.

Anne Pyburn, Anthropology, proposes creating an archaeology app for educators and field schools, with possible uses for geology as well. Pyburn envisions the app as part of a package, and thinks it would be easy to create if someone wrote clear instructions.

The app would be based on archaeologists' first use of the iPads at Pompeii (the only archaeology project using them, as far as Pyburn can tell). The excavators tried to draw Harris Matrices using a somewhat unsuitable app, which meant the matrices were incorrect. This led Pyburn to think that an app for making a Harris Matrix, including instructions on how to make one correctly, would be useful in the classroom and in the field.

Jonathan Elmer, English, collaborated with Jon Blandford, a Fellow teaching the required gateway class for the English major in spring 2011. The class trains students in essential tools for literary analysis and interpretation. In consultation with Elmer, Blandford devised an experiment with annotation tools, testing the iPad's abilities to enhance visualization of text and teach analysis of poetic elements such as alliteration and assonance.

Students annotated a poem in advance of class, then did it again on a projected version of the text during class time. To do so, they used GoodReader and iAnnotate for writing and annotating, and iThoughts and Mindmash for brainstorming.

Emily Okada, IUB Libraries, noted that librarians teach in situations and locations different from the traditional course or classroom setting and, in most cases, would be hard pressed to refer to "their" students. When Okada goes into a classroom or when students come to the library for instruction, they are someone else's students.

In group interactions, Okada usually doesn't know the students, has spoken with the instructor once or twice, and has one 50-minute session to teach basic library research concepts. Therefore, Okada maintains that it will take a brave, creative, experienced librarian, working with a like-minded instructor, to conceive, develop, and implement a mobile tablet teaching/instructional activity. And to make this worth the time, the proof of concept would need to demonstrate scalability and applicability to other situations, and would need to be not just different, but better.

Joseph Pomerening, Biology, taught a rigorous, 250-undergraduate molecular biology course in spring 2011. Pomerening's approach to teaching this course blends lecture, audiovisual resources in the form of video podcasts, and other media. Combined with formative assessments, through in-class clicker questions, Pomerening engages students in active learning exercises to instruct each other on new topics, while gauging their level of understanding.

Using these tools in conjunction with iPads helped Pomerening further engage students during class sessions, reducing barriers by encouraging idea sharing and problem solving. First, by implementing the iPad as a full-fledged computer interface, Pomerening interacted seamlessly with the class as material was presented. Second, by engaging a subset of students with iPads during lecture, they were able to share graphically, in real time, the reasoning for their answers. The class used Air Sketch Pro for sharing and reflecting on thinking and assessments, and Pomerening used VNC Viewer for remote control of a networked computer.

IUPUI FLC abstracts:

Amanda Cecil, Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management, used the iPads in a senior-level Global Tourism Seminar Course (two sections) in the fall and a 200-level Mechanics of Meeting Planning course in the spring. Cecil provided a list of event management, travel, and tourism applications for students to download, and asked them to form small groups and explore how these applications could be used by event planners, leisure travelers, and hospitality and tourism suppliers.

In the final class, students used applications that encouraged critical thinking and group collaborations. Students in the senior seminar class used Popplet to finalize their final presentation concepts, organize their ideas, and create maps of classroom content. Students in the meeting management class used SuperPlanner to solve problems and answer questions related to certain scenarios.

E.J. Choe, Department of Music and Arts Technology, used the iPads in first-year and second-year musicianship courses, specifically in the skills section to improve ear-training ability. The first session was to review seven free applications, five of which were ear-training apps. During the following session, students received the full (paid) version of their top two choices of apps from the first session, EarTraining and Karajan Pro. The third and fourth sessions were more individualized. Each student focused on improving their weaknesses in both harmonies and intervals. Many students used Karajan Pro. There was also some interest in and a discussion of developing their own apps.

In addition to the first- and second-year music major courses, the same apps were used in a session with a group of first graders and a professional piano teachers' organization (Indiana Piano Teachers Association).

Timothy Diemer, Department of Computer, Information & Leadership Technology, produced two iPad-ready learning modules in open source format. One of the two open source learning modules was published in October 2010 and used as part of course content for three undergraduate sections during spring semester 2011. A second content module is undergoing final editing and will be deployed in fall 2011.

The long-term outcome of Diemer's project is to replace one or more textbooks now assigned for a specific course, thereby reducing costs to students. That outcome can only be realized when additional modules are added to the existing two. The additional modules can come from two sources: 1) those written by the same author, and 2) those written by other authors and available through open source repositories such as Connexions.

Willie Miller, IUPUI University Library, integrated iPads into information literacy instruction to undergraduate students in the School of Informatics and the School of Journalism at IUPUI during the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters.

As part of information-seeking and evaluation-of-information activities, students used library mobile research resources to find, access, and retrieve an IUCAT record for a book, a PDF or HTML version of a scholarly article, and a PDF or HTML version of a news article related to a current social or political topic or the topic of a previously assigned research project in small groups. After retrieving the items, students provided citation information in a class Popplet. Additionally, student groups located five scholarly citations related to the topic.

Jennifer Nelson, Department of Earth Sciences, used the iPad for two class activities in G115, Introduction to Oceanography, in fall 2010 (60 students). The iPad activities were designed to enhance students' spatial visualization skills in a cooperative learning exercise by having them apply oceanographic concepts to a spatial and visual understanding of the Earth's surface.

The class utilized the iPads to explore tidal characteristics and coastal features in two consecutive sessions. In the first session, students used the iPad to explore tidal data for selected US coastlines using online resources from NOAA ( and the Maps application preloaded on the iPad. For the second session, they used the iPads to review tidal data using specific applications (TideGraphHD and Luan), and attempted to explore depositional and erosional features of US coastlines using Google Earth.

Jonathan Rossing, Communication Studies, developed a series of spring 2011 activities meant to 1) review concepts and principles from communication theory; 2) help students identify connections and differences among multiple theories; and 3) encourage application of communication theory concepts to quotidian examples from personal life and public culture.

These objectives were primarily accomplished through activities featuring the iPad and web-based application Popplet. Students also used Safari for online research, and completed a review activity using Google Docs. Popplet can be used both individually and collaboratively. The application has the capacity to sync across multiple iPads and allow several users to work on the same concept map simultaneously.

Jake Streepey, Physical Education, developed a series of iPad Movement Analysis labs during spring 2011, using the iPad as a mini-laboratory device for the analysis of human movement and to model the professional use of common, accessible mobile technology.

Streepey's objectives were accomplished through the following iPad laboratory exercises:

  • Displacement and Velocity Lab: Students used the Video Physics app to digitize video-recorded human movement.
  • Impulse Lab: Students used Accelerometer Data Pro and OmniGS apps to record data from the iPad's native accelerometers.
  • Balance Lab: Students used the Video Physics app to digitize video recordings of a subject standing up from a chair.
  • Gait Analysis: Students were asked to predict mechanical differences between their typical gait and a funny gait (such as a strut or a duck walk) that they would perform.
  • Movement Analysis: Students recorded the movement(s) of their choosing, uploading recordings to iPads either via the camera connection kit or the Dropbox app.

Health Sciences FLC abstracts:

Alex Djuricich, M.D., used the iPad in lectures on transitions of care, which will be a critical skillset for future physicians to possess, given resident duty hour restrictions. Djuricich has also been in contact with the Child Life specialists at Riley Hospital, who are using the iPad and applications as distraction techniques while young patients undergo procedures.

Djuricich also presented on the use of iPads at the national Association of Pediatric Program Directors meeting, collaborating with a colleague from another institution to highlight important aspects of how the iPad can be used for "Just-In-Time Learning" at the point of care, as well as applications pertinent to medical education and medicine in general.

Erika Galyean, LCSW, developed a fall 2010 pilot with five students in their field practicum, using iPad technology to modernize the process, development, and visual product of Process Recording (Process Recording is an institutionalized learning activity in the training of social workers by Schools of Social Work nationwide). Ultimately, Galyean aimed to make an important learning activity, historically perceived and experienced by students as tedious, more enjoyable.

There were three main components to Galyean's Process Recording assignment for students: 1) recording, 2) analysis, and 3) presentation. For the recording component, students used the Live Note app, which let them record the interview and bookmark sections of the recording for revisiting for the analysis portion of the assignment. For the analysis component, students used the Popplet app.

Leslie Hulvershorn, MD, is involved in clinical care and research of children and adolescents with mood and substance use disorders. Hulvershorn's site is also a training location for third- and fourth-year medical students, psychiatry residents, and child psychiatry fellows, all facing the difficulty of providing engaging and informative content during increasingly brief clinical teaching encounters.

Trainees need to gather complex information and tabulate it quickly, but computer facilities are not available in most clinical settings. In the past they have collected use patterns by hand and hired administrative support to tabulate the information in Excel spreadsheets. The iPad enables trainees to collect drug use patterns in the session, with the adolescent using a document that automatically tabulates and compares data to local and national norms. Motivational feedback can be immediately provided to the adolescent.

Susan Robinson, MS, RT (R), teaches one-third of the Radiology Principles course to first-year radiography students in the fall semester. Robinson's section of the course contains all the digital imaging theory and concepts regarding the production of medical images. All 68 students in the radiography program participated in iPad explorations.

There are two energized operational x-ray rooms in Robinson's program area. In small groups of four or five, students took x-rays and simulated a variety of errors that can occur when the x-ray equipment is not properly aligned. Once the students had finished acquiring the entire set of knee x-rays, they worked together to create concept maps using the iPads.

Patricia J Scott, PhD, MPH, OT, FAOTA, had students use iPads to create concept maps to synthesize variables and principles found in class readings into a literature review. The process of concept mapping in qualitative research is to give a text passage to students prior to class, and have each student code and find themes. In Scott's class, groups of three students with an iPad (12 groups total) created concept maps.

Using the iBrainstorm app, the iPad allowed students to identify relationships between concepts, connect them by associating literature with the concepts, and identify what is known and unknown. The process required students to work together and problem-solve to specify relationships between issues in the literature prior to writing their research literature reviews.

Deborah Stiffler, PhD, RN, CNM, intends to use iPads for a behavioral health survey for women who visit a bus converted to a classroom on wheels, known as the "WoW Bus - Women's Wellness on Wheels". Women will be invited to the bus for an event on primary prevention of diseases. While the women are on the bus, Stiffler's team will ask that they fill out a short iPad survey on their health behaviors.

Stiffler has identified the iSurvey app as the likely program for conducting the survey. While there are demo and trial surveys showing how the app works, there is an $89/month fee to unlock all features of the program. Survey questions can be written in many styles - such as true/false, multiple choice, and short answer - and made to jump to the next question, depending on the answer to the previous question. Survey data is processed automatically in chart form, and the survey can be downloaded on as many iPads as needed without additional charge.

Debra Wood, IUSM Histotechnology Program, is part of a non-traditional training program to meet health care manpower needs in both urban and rural settings nationwide. Today the program administers a weekly curriculum via recorded interactive presentations utilizing Adobe Presenter. Each lecture is accompanied by study materials such as reading, audio-visuals, practice test questions, and assignments.

With the iPad, Wood was able to upload microscopic images that assisted students in identifying tissue types under the microscope. At times, they needed to clarify their assumption of the structure or needed help identifying a structure. They located the image on the iPad, viewing it full-screen with notes and arrows pointing to major landmarks in the tissue sample.

Wood's second project was a video for two different problems encountered during the cutting of a frozen section. The iPad was placed on the cryostat, so students could view a demonstration of proper technique and apply a corrective technique.

Project team:

  • University Information Technology Services
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning (IUPUI)
  • The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (IUB)
  • The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (IUB)


  • University Information Technology Services
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning (IUPUI)
  • The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (IUB)
  • The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (IUB)

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