APT 2013 Conference, Day one.

Today was an exciting day, as you can see from my last post it was conference day one – of two (Tomorrow we are talking at SHIFT 2013). The other members of the tablet team and I where invited by Dr. Mark JP Kerrigan to assist him, and Dr. Richard Blackburn, who were talking at the conference today; the conference was the Academic Practice and Technology (APT) 2013 conference being held by my University – The University of Greenwich. We were there to talk about the project that I am currently apart of as a Student Change Agent, iPads in Higher Education.

The aim of the project that I am a part of is to introduce iPads into the curriculum of our Degree’s to see if they can be used successfully within a Laboratory and now also the Academic environment. So we talked about bit to the attendee’s of the conference about the training, use, support and employability prospects that using iPads in Higher Education offers. I took on the role of talking about the training of students for use of the iPads and how important it was for staff to guide us – the students being loaned the iPads – to learn to transfer the Digital Literacy skills (that we had previously gained in our life) to the iPads. I also mentioned how the University only gave us a guideline of recommended apps but supported us discovering new iOS applications to help aid our learning and laboratory data collecting processes.  For those who are interested the recommended apps suggested by the University at the start of the year where:

  • Good Reader
  • Penultimate
  • Data Analysis
  • Office HD
  • Calculator
  • Solutions.

But as time has gone by we – the students – have learnt of some apps such as Notability, Evernote and DropBox that have enhanced the use of our iPads in the laboratory and academic settings.

Additionally, during our conference me and the other students –of whom I work with– where handed iPads minis, which we are allowed to take home tonight for a trial run. The aim behind this is to see how feasible these would be as a replacement for next year’s students rather than what I now think is the bulky 10 inch iPads we currently have  -there is no need to say this but I am honestly thinking of upgrading to an iPad mini soon, I love them that much. I am quiet looking forward to finishing this train journey playing on the iPad mini (yes I am on a train blogging how “hipster”).

Whilst at the conference we briefly sat in on a talk given by Sheffield Hallam about how the students there are using “Smart Devices” – such as iPads, Tablets, Phablets and Phones – to enhance there education. They mentioned how technology is changing education and how smart technology has changed the health and public sector. I’d really like some of your input on this. Personally I can see where they are coming from in that iPads and other brands of tablets are being used throughout education, a good example of this can bee seen on Andy Beecher’s blog here: http://andybeecher.wordpress.com. I am not to sure if smart devices are changing the health and public sectors, however I have heard of Hospitals using iPads and Tablets to help diagnose and treat patients which is quiet an interesting move. I think it will be nice to see where this goes in the years to come. Furthermore they then went on to talk about how smart device ownership has gone up over the years for students; which seems like a pretty obvious statement to me as a students, however most people at the conference seemed to be somewhat ‘stunned’ by this. Other than one piece of information that they said – which I will come to in a minute – I totally agree with their statement that Students learn better on the move, as it is easier for them. They recognized that students have hectic and busy lives and that staff members need to help support and encourage learning on the move, or as I like to call it ‘Mobile Learning’.

Coming back to the statement that I disagree with, there gave figures out saying that “Students will pay up to £10 for an educational application”. I myself as a student would not even dream about spending £10 on an application for education, I begrudge paying £3.99 for some gaming applications let alone £10 for an educational application. But then again that might be down to my “lesser off background” that I was labeled as by most universities I applied for – all because my household earns under the £25,000 threshold and I come from an area with poor progression rates. Would you pay up £10 for an educational app? I know I wouldn’t, maximum I would spend is £4 – maybe £5.00 at a push.

On a final note, today has been very exciting and an amazing experience, my project ‘The Student VLE’ got mentioned by the Vice Chancellor at the opening of the conference, which was a lovely and proud moment – one that I will not forget shortly. I also realize that I have not told you the good news, ‘The Student VLE’ has been successful and will be receiving £5,000 from JISC to fund the project. Another glorious moment to celebrate, tomorrows SHIFT conference talk with be dedicated to informing people of our project and also running a focus group for the project, more details to follow tomorrow. For more information on our talk tomorrow please see the conference webpage here: https://showtime.gre.ac.uk/index.php/edu/sp/paper/viewPaper/352.

The Vice Chancellor talking about 'The Student VLE' project. A proud moment for all involved.
The Vice Chancellor talking about ‘The Student VLE’ project. A proud moment for all involved.
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