Officials push for technology in the classroom

Last semester Chey Grant, junior pre-nursing major, used her borrowed iPad for everything school-related.

She participates in online class discussion forums and took digital notes on her
eBooks.

Grant is living the vision of Associate Vice President of Information Technology, Max Davis-Johnson’s.

“You come to campus with superpowers,” Davis-Johnson said. “Think about your phone. You can do telepathy. You can share your thoughts with anybody through texting, you can record things, you can take pictures and depending on whether it’s a phone or a tablet or a laptop, you have total recall. You can find all the knowledge in the world through Google search. Basically, it’s sort of silly and stupid if we don’t use those in the classroom.”

One of Davis-Johnson’s technological projects last year was to help the academic technologies group as part of the Mobile Learning Initiative which grants mobile technology requests, like the iPad, to instructors who wish to incorporate that technology as a tool in their course curriculum.

Students can use an iPad for the term—and not only can they use it for the class required, but for their other courses as well.

“It’s made my whole semester the greatest thing ever, besides the classes that are just awesome,” Grant said. “It’s very interactive. Basically, it’s not just interactive through the technology. It’s also a lot of discussion time in the whole class and you’re supposed to talk up. With this class it definitely helps with the
communication.”

However, one concern about technology in the classroom is the diminishment of face-to-face
interaction.

Grant said she’s seen cases that support this, but not to total detriment.

“With the classes I have this year, it’s probably different from the others because it’s so centered around (the iPad), but it’s easier to look things up really quickly and then talk to people about what you’re looking up when you’re supposed to be doing that. If you’re just sitting down to relax or something it would definitely take away from face-to-face interactions with people.”

Another concern is that the technology would actually be a distraction and students would just be on Facebook or screwing around.

Grant said that is not the case for her.

“I don’t use Facebook when I’m in class because I think this is a handy tool that needs to be used properly,” Grant said.

Davis-Johnson said he acknowledges how OIT is just scraping the surface with these technological tools and updates, but he feels he and the OIT department is moving in the right direction for Boise State as a university and the faculty to become “digitally fluent.”

With a common set of tools provided for the instructors, Davis-Johnson said he hopes that these updates will enhance learning both inside and outside the classroom for as many of Boise State’s students as possible.

About the author  ⁄ Alx Stickel

Alx Stickel

Alx Stickel is the Chief Copy Editor at The Arbiter. Stickel studies journalism and sociology at Boise State. She is a lover of reading, running and shooting photos of those willing to be her guinea pigs. Follow her on twitter @alxstickel.