Lynn University launching one of higher education’s most extensive tablet-based learning programs

University offering core curriculum on iPad minis to all incoming freshmen
Lynn University launching one of higher education’s most extensive tablet-based learning programs

Published Jan. 15, 2013

Lynn University is launching a far-reaching, iPad-based initiative that will use Apple technology to deliver the school’s nationally praised core curriculum to all incoming freshmen while also saving them up to 50 percent on the typical cost of their core curriculum text books.

“After two years of research and successful pilot programs, we are putting a transformational learning companion in our students’ hands that will deliver our core curriculum in a rich environment, allowing our students to engage with the content in interactive ways,” Lynn President Kevin M. Ross said. “And, this will save them up to 50 percent off what it would cost for just the core curriculum text books alone.”

An Apple iPad mini loaded with the Dialogues of Learning core curriculum books, summer reader, iTunes U courses and other class materials and useful apps will be provided to all incoming freshmen for the Fall 2013 semester. The preloaded device will cost each new student $475—50 percent less expensive than the typical purchasing price of their core curriculum books, and they get to keep the iPad mini. The student can download any additional apps or content they like since they now own the device.

The extensive options provided by the available apps and multimedia capabilities will expand the ways in which a student can interact with the content and class materials. As Apple’s education website states, “Powerful apps from the App Store like iTunes U and iBooks let students engage with content in interactive ways, find information in an instant, and access an entire library wherever they go.”

Integration of Tablets  

With an iPad mini in hand, a new student can begin the learning process right away and that process can occur anywhere they go with the device at any time. To further support the integration of tablets into the learning experience, all full-time faculty have also been issued iPads and are being trained to incorporate the devices abilities into their teaching.

“We issued iPads to our full-time faculty just before the holidays and asked them to familiarize themselves with the new devices,” Gregg Cox, vice president for academic affairs, said. “During the spring and through summer, they will be trained on how to use the device in the learning process, both in the traditional classroom environment and beyond.”

“We were all surprised and excited to be receiving an iPad just before the holidays, a bit of an early present,” Mike Petroski, associate professor, computer management systems, said. “I’m really excited about learning how to enhance my students’ experience in the classroom through integrating the tablet platform with our class content.”

This is the latest step in a process that began years ago. Lynn laid the foundations in the school’s Lynn 2020 strategic plan in 2006 and moved the idea forward with subsequent visits to Apple to explore options for putting a digital content delivery device at the center of the learning process. The focus is to provide every student an opportunity to learn in the style that best suits them, whether in the traditional classroom or through a tablet device.

Lynn's Learning Ecosystem

As part of their preparation for the initiative, Lynn rolled out courses over the last two years that used iPads—during the school’s January Term (the school’s mini semester) and as part of the activities related to the school’s hosting of the final 2012 presidential debate. The feedback from both students and faculty involved with these courses was extremely positive.

“This effort is about developing the best learning ecosystem with a right device at its center,” Christian Boniforti, Lynn’s chief information officer, said. “We’re committed to Apple technology and the learning ecosystem provided by Apple’s iTunes U to deliver our liberal arts core and enhance the learning experience, but the device will change as technology continues to advance.”

Launched in 2009, Lynn’s nationally praised core curriculum, called the Dialogues of Learning, blends liberal arts with professional study and is comprised of courses that are interdisciplinary and both internationally and domestically focused. They are designed to enhance critical thinking and reasoning, written oral communication skills, as well as information technological literacy.

“Our core curriculum uniquely lends itself to learning both in and out of the class using multimedia materials and technology to enrich the way the students interface with the content,” Cox said. “The new content came first and now the technology is available to enhance it in ways we only hoped to do just a few years ago. I see this iPad initiative as the evolution of the dialogues.”

Digital Infrastructure 

The debate on Oct. 22, 2012, also helped make the new iPad initiative possible. The construction of a digital infrastructure for the campus was one of the largest investments the school had to make to meet the major technological demands of the debate. However, the school’s senior leadership always understood that they would keep this newly expanded network and immediately began thinking of how they could use it after the debate.

“We knew that the new network infrastructure would provide benefits far beyond just enabling us to host the thousands of media and others coming to participate in the debate,” Boniforti said. “Our new iPad initiative is one of the first new efforts that will use the new network as its backbone.”

More information about Lynn University’s iPad initiative will be available in the coming weeks as the program begins to roll out during the spring months of 2013.