NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma is giving out nearly 600 iPads as part of a digital initiative to enhance learning with technology.
Gregg Garn, dean of OU's Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, said it makes sense for prospective teachers to use the latest technology.
“We're just convinced that's going to make them better teachers,” Garn said.
The pilot project that will give iPads to students enrolled in the undergraduate teacher education program is part of OU's One University digital initiative, which integrates technology and creates digital content to enhance the learning experience.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to create greater access to learning for our students,” OU President David L. Boren said. “By providing iPads as supplemental education resources, our students will learn how to develop more powerful learning models, which they can then utilize in their own classrooms after graduating.”
Garn said officials want technology to be a big part of the curriculum for future teachers at the university.
“Since many K-12 schools have adopted iPad initiatives, it is imperative that future teachers learn and teach with the same tools,” Garn said. “OU will supply iPads at no cost to the student and, upon completion of the program, students will get to keep the device and the digital content they have created to use in their teaching careers.”
OU education professors, who received iPads earlier this fall, are incorporating them into their spring lesson plans, focusing on how the devices are being used in K-12 education.
“If you really want a one-to-one technology initiative to be successful, you first have to empower the faculty to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the technology that they are learning how to use,” associate professor Teresa Cullen said. “The goal is to have the faculty use the technology as a tool to incorporate the activities that they are already doing, such as lesson planning, and to extend to such activities as reviewing apps that would further enhance what they are teaching.”
The college also has selected 10 students to be a part of the “technology student team” that will assist faculty members in designing activities for their classes.
“This is an innovative model, based on 21st century skills that include collaboration between the faculty and the student,” Cullen said. “We are trying to design this collaboration to get the students engaged with the faculty so that they are learning together as future and current educators.”
Through the One University digital initiative, OU is broadly implementing technology through videos and dynamic online course materials formatted specifically for the iPad that are continuously being made available on iTunes U. The university also is developing a new iPad app to offer additional services to students.