Seeing freshmen on campus with a brand-new iPad is not the only thing to expect from the recent partnership between Ohio State and Apple.
The initiative, announced Oct. 4, will bring iPad Pros to every incoming freshman beginning Autumn 2018. With the new technology, students will also experience changes in the types of computers they will see on campus, a new place to learn coding and iPad-enhanced classrooms.
“We are really working with the community to understand what the needs are as we get ready to launch the Digital Flagship Initiative,” said Liv Gjestvang, associate vice president of learning technology for the Office of Distance Education and eLearning.
She said her office is also figuring out how to build a cohesive coding program to support students with and without iPads.
Traditional computer labs on campus will not be reduced, said Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson.
He said the initiative will possibly lead to more of Apple’s Mac computers on campus to support the coding and app development aspects of the partnership.
With the growth of mobile technology, the Office of Distance Education and eLearning originally expected the demand and use of computer labs to go down, Gjestvang said, but their findings proved otherwise.
“Students, when they are using laptops, tablets or other mobile devices, appreciate having a space to work and collaborate on a larger screen,” she said. “We are committed, over the long term, to providing spaces for students to collaborate and work on larger-scale projects on larger-scale computers.”
Both in our educational and our professional lives, technology is a core part of the work that we do. We are thinking about this as an opportunity for students to not just be consuming technology, but really thinking about how to engage students as producers and creators in that world too. — Liv Gjestvang, associate vice president of learning technology for the Office of Distance Education and eLearning
The initiative will add to the amount of tech-centric rooms already at Ohio State with the creation of Apple iOS lab, which will come to campus in spring 2018 in a temporary space. A permanent space will be determined for the 2019-18 academic year, she said.
“The design lab will be the first place in 2018 where the expanded computer use will be visible,” Gjestvang said.
Another addition is Swift coding — Apple’s coding language — and app development, not only for computer science students, but also potentially the entire student body.
“The critical mass is actually the students who are not engineering, or computer science majors and we want to provide them opportunities and pathways forward,” said Cory Tressler, associate director of learning programs. “If they start to learn Swift coding at the basic level, and they generate an interest that creates ways that they can get deeper in their studies regardless of what their major is.”
Tressler wants the coding aspects done in a way that is more flexible than a traditional semester-long course that can be on demand, adding he hopes this will leverage the design lab as a physical space for education.
“Both in our educational and our professional lives, technology is a core part of the work that we do,” Gjestvang added. “We are thinking about this as an opportunity for students to not just be consuming technology, but really thinking about how to engage students as producers and creators in that world too.”
Students also will see changes when scheduling for classes next year. Tressler said there will be iPad-enhanced sections of classes that are only available to students with the device.
“We are going to work on sections of courses that have large enrollments with multiple sections so there is ample opportunity for a student that has an iPad that can sign up for the iPad-required enhanced section,” Tressler said. “A student that does not have an iPad will not have the same opportunities in that section, will not be able to enroll.”
These iPad-enhanced classes will target a limited number of sections that will be largely first-year students, Gjestvang said. She said the initiative should not affect upper-level students.
The execution of the initiative is evolving quickly and there is still a lot to consider and work to be done, she added.
“This is a plan that we are developing rapidly,” Gjestvang said. “We are really committed to engaging with the whole Ohio State community to understand and design a program that is responsive to the specific needs of our community.”