MAGNOLIA — The Southern Arkansas University Honors College will conduct a pilot study during the fall 2011 semester by providing iPad 2 tablet computers for all 60 of its anticipated students enrolled in the introductory course, Honors Seminar.
These students will receive their own iPad 2 to keep and the Honors Seminar course’s format will be adjusted to maximize the power of the iPad 2 as a teaching device, according to Dr. Edward P. Kardas, director of the Honors College. The iPad 2 is the highly anticipated successor to the iPad, released last year with sales exceeding 14 million units to date.
The iPad 2 will likely add two cameras, additional RAM, a faster processor and will be thinner and lighter than the original. The device will allow students to access the Internet, send and receive e-mail, read online course materials, download textbooks, network with other students, faculty and friends over the campus’ Wi-Fi network or any other open wireless network.
Currently, four honors students enrolled in the Cognitive Science course are preparing the way for the pilot project. A $3,000 grant from the SAU Faculty Development for Teaching with Technology Committee purchased the four iPads being loaned to the students for the spring semester. These students will conduct preliminary research on using the current iPad in various educational settings. Later in the semester, they will present their findings at the Southern Regional Honors Council meeting to be held in Little Rock from March 31 to April 2. Their work will determine what software should be loaded onto the iPad 2 before giving them to the incoming students in the Honors Seminar class.
The Honors Seminar covers four main topics: the academic experience, the Honors College itself, critical thinking, and diversity. Students write extensively on each of those topics, and their final drafts are published online on the class blog: sauhc.blogspot.com.
Soon, the iPad 2 may come to replace the book bag and the laptop, and tomorrow’s students may only have to carry a small tablet computer, Kardas said. In it they will find all their books, written assignments, and e-mails. They might browse the Internet, roam the stacks of a library, read a newspaper, visit with friends, or ask their professor a question whenever they wish. SAU is taking the first steps to exploring that digital future.
The pilot study will require no new funding. The incoming honors class will receive an iPad 2 in place of their usual first-year stipend. In subsequent years they will receive the monetary value of their stipends. Entering students who already own an iPad or iPad 2 will receive the stipend the first year.
If the pilot study is successful more SAU classes may be taught using the iPad 2.
The SAU Honors College was founded in 2003 by SAU President Dr. David Rankin. It seeks and admits qualified students who wish to pursue a serious academic program with equally gifted peers and committed teachers. Honors classes are small and provide academically enriching opportunities for students and the faculty who teach them. Currently, SAU enrolls 112 honors students and graduated 10 in 2009-2010.
For additional information, contact Kardas at (870) 904-8897 or email@example.com.