Social Work Education and iPads

Well I am over 3 weeks into the new semester and more specifically into my Policy class, which has been selected as an iPad class this semester.  I haven’t shared much about this as it was really a pretty quick process of applying, getting approval, and revamping my syllabus to address learning with iPads.  I hope that as the semester continues I will come back to my blog here and share some of my initial insights. I do have plans to conduct a small evaluation of this project, so details on that will be forthcoming. For now, some initial thoughts as I am almost done with January.

When my course was selected I admit that I was over the top excited for my students. I was excited because I love integrating technology into my courses and being able to have an iPad mini for each student just seemed fantastic.  I also kept reminding, and still do, myself that just because I was excited and thought about how each student will use the iPad to augment  their learning and bring in relevant policy examples into our class discussions because they have access to the internet in the palm of their hand…That just because of all the potential I imaged, that it did and does not mean my students feel the same.  The truth is, and the literature supports this notion, that many students are mystified and nervous about using technology in the classroom.  I have asked my class and so far the sentiment of anxiety holds true. Partly for the fear of breaking or losing this free device, and partly because they recognize that they have never used a tablet for learning. I have tried to ease the anxiety by finding and sharing as many resources as possible about the iPad and how to use it. Mainly in the form of YouTube videos embedded in my Blackboard course. I think it has helped but time will tell.

I still have hope that some of the assignments I have designed to maximize the use of the iPad will yield positive learning outcomes, but again time will only tell.  I am still excited for the potential that these devices have in my class but I am also quickly realizing that I have my work cut out for me. That is the idea of challenging students’ thinking regarding learning with the iPad. Yes, I do have many students Facebooking through class or checking email or whatever. I don’t plan on implementing a policy stating they have to put the iPads away and pay attention, because the fact is that many students are using their iPads to take notes. I also think that if they are that bored in my class, then I need to engage them more in the discussion directly. I have them using twitter and it is fine if they tweet during class. I have to just keep reminding them to identify the relevance to the course as they do so.  This is perhaps one of my first learning moments, which I expected but did not fully recognize. This idea, again, that I need to change their perspective in regards to how to use the iPad for learning rather than just entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, entertainment is good, but I think it can also be educational. Stay tuned for future updates 😀

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About jimmysw
Assistant Professor of Social Work with a focus on Social Media, Social Work Education and all things technology.

4 Responses to Social Work Education and iPads

  1. So nice that each student can get an ipad! It’ll be interesting to see how you can integrate the technology into clinical practice!

  2. Dale Fitch says:

    Sounds like you are off to a good guard. Keep us posted as the learning moments occur (both yours and your students).

  3. Pingback: Final Thoughts on Social Work Education and the iPad | Jimmysw's Blog

  4. Pingback: iPolicy: Evaluating iPads in social welfare | Jimmysw's Blog

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