Watching lessons recorded by their instructors for homework and spending class time working on problems instead, Chemistry 550 students will soon test out a “flipped classroom” model—all facilitated by iPads that the students received this week.
The iPads, funded by alumni donations, are part of a pilot program to encourage new teaching styles in class and to increase the efficiency of lessons, said John Rogers, Dean of Studies. The Chemistry and Math Departments are using the Winter Term as a trial period for the iPads to see if the new model is effective.
“The chemistry we teach will remain the same, but students will have more time to practice in class where they can get questions answered immediately,” said Kevin Cardozo, Instructor in Chemistry.
Cardozo said that the chemistry classes will only implement the “flipped classroom” model on some days. On others, the iPads will help him compile and distribute homework solutions to students more quickly, allowing him to focus more on problem-solving practice during class. Students can now also access the online version of the textbook on their iPads.
“Instead of students handwriting homework solutions on the board each day for the first ten to 15 minutes [of class], I’m hoping we can save time by having students send in solutions electronically by the beginning of class,” said Cardozo.
Chris Odden, Instructor in Mathematics, first proposed incorporating iPads into science and math courses after observing the Russian Department’s success in using iPads in the classroom, said Rogers.
Odden is also using iPads in one section of his Math 340. The iPads allow Odden to give timely feedback to students who can write and submit electronic solutions to homework problems, according to Patrick Farrell, Instructor and Chair in Mathematics.
“At a presentation to the Board of Trustees, I was asked why Dr. Odden wasn’t being allowed to pursue his dream of teaching with iPads. My response was that we could implement an iPad class if a trustee was willing to donate money for purchasing a classroom set,” wrote Farrell in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
“When alumni heard about other teachers wanting to explore the use of iPads in their areas of the curriculum, they stepped forward to offer funding, so we were able to have some math and chemistry courses do a pilot project this term,” Rogers said.
Because funding for the iPads come from alumni donations, students do not have to pay for them except in cases of damage or loss. The students will return the iPads at the end of the course.
The iPads have elicited mixed reviews from students in Chemisty 550.
“The benefits of having an iPad in a school like this include ease of transport, being able to neaten study space by having notes and worksheets on the iPad, and communication,” said Tessa Peterson ’15.
“The textbook took up so much space in my backpack and energy to carry around all day. I think the iPad is much more convenient,” said Jamie Chen ’15.
However, Bridget Higgins ’14 said, “I personally don’t think [the iPads] are that useful. First of all, you have to have bought the textbook new to access it online. The school is not providing the students with the textbook, and you have to pay around $120. Most of the kids I know bought used books online, so really, the iPad is just a free iPad for the year.”
“I feel like I get more distracted because I have the iPad. Everyone brings them to class and a good amount of people are playing games during class instead of listening to the teacher,” added Higgins.
“Many students have laptops and already bring those to class. These laptops, something a majority of students already own, are pretty lightweight and can serve the same purposes that an iPad can,” said Seho Young ’15.