iPads and in-class discussions

Demie Kurz, Co-Director of the Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies (GSWS) Program, shared with us her reflections on using WIC iPads during in-class discussions:

I am very appreciative that the Weigle Information Commons was able to lend iPads to students in my Contemporary Feminist Thought Class, GSWS 320, during the Spring 2013 semester. Both the students and I were very happy with how we were able to use the iPads in the seminar, which involves a lot of reading, including a number of articles that are posted on the class Blackboard site. Students were very happy with the iPads because they did not to have to print out all the articles, but could read them on their iPads. Most of them downloaded an editing program/app that enabled them to underline and make margin notes on the iPad, just as they would do for a hard copy of an article. The fact that students did not have to print out all the articles saved them time and money, and also of course is a more environmentally friendly practice.

For myself, I was very pleased with the iPads because unlike laptops, which a number of students have and like to use in a seminar, iPads do not disrupt the flow of discussion. The whole point of a seminar is to engage in extended discussion of points at a deeper level than is possible in a larger class. When students have laptops open on a big seminar table, it is very disruptive to the flow of discussion. Students tend not to look at each other but at their laptops, which are squarely in front of them. The iPad, which lies flatter on a table, enables students to both consult an article they are discussing, but then quickly look up and address the group.

Again, my thanks to Weigle for making the use of iPads available to the class. I hope to be able to utilize this service again in the spring semester of 2014.

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