Dr. Cynthia Powell uses iPads as a teaching platform in Chemisty

174228964_640What are you doing?
I have written a Physical Sciences textbook using iBook Author that is used in the Chemistry 203 course….this is a course for pre-service elementary school teachers. iPads are used as the teaching platform and all homework, laboratory work and classwork is completed using the iPads. They allow me to deliver podcasts that teach laboratory techniques and other digital resources that students use to support their learning. They allow students to easily collaborate on group reports. We have also used several science APPs for the iPad that are useful in learning about various topics and in practicing skills needed in processing scientific data. We use iPads to take photographs included in student lab reports that are essentially the “data” collected for an experiment. We augment these photos and can measure distances and angles more accurately on the photographs, than we can in the live laboratory setting. This augmented reality application is changing the way we plan laboratory experiments. We have also begun using iPads to collect all data, process the data and write and submit laboratory reports in our General Chemistry laboratories. This is a team effort led by Dr. Greg Powell and Dr. Eric Hardegree, along with our laboratory coordinator Mrs. Amber Brokaw. While our laboratories have been almost paperless for several years, the move to iPads has simplified the process. Podcasts prepared to teach techniques and skills for this course have been available for the past 3-4 years and students benefit from the ability to review new information in laboratory when they need extra support and at home.

Why are you doing it?
Technology can provide opportunities to see the world and understand science in ways we cannot in a regular classroom. We can tap into live data displayed by NASA, or record our laboratory data so that we can refer to it later. Students can review materials using podcasts and don’t have to be dependent on me to demonstrate a technique several times, as they become comfortable with new skills. iPads provide the opportunity for easy student collaboration and when used with an Apple TV allow students to share their work or online discoveries with the class in a seamless way. Simply put, technology is a teaching tool that broadens the opportunities for students to learn.

Why do you think it’s important to incorporate this technology into the classroom?
(1) When our students go out into the work world they will be expected to he facile technology users…we need to be training them for that situation.
(2) Technology is just one more tool in the arsenal of tools that a teacher can use to connect with their students and move students toward deeper learning. Using technology doesn’t make you a great teacher….listening to students, providing opportunities for students to learn in ways that helps them connect new knowledge with previous experience…these things can be accomplished with or without technology. I think it’s important to use the tools we have when they are helpful and know when they aren’t!

Who is being impacted the most?
It’s hard to know….I hope the faculty and students are both impacted by the collaborative learning environment that we’re trying to create.

What hopes do you have for the future when this work is done?
I doubt this work will ever be done…because I anticipate always reaching to improve the ways I teach and I suspect that this will involve technology for the forseeable future.