iPads part of the freshman experience at ASU

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University is changing the traditional classroom experience. All incoming freshmen will use iPads this fall.

ASU is the first public university in the state to do this and students and teachers alike are excited to have many school materials just a click away.

"It's making history. This year, we're gonna be able to get on our iPads and everything's gonna be 3-dimensional. We can, if we're in like a biology class, we can dissect the brain," freshman Destiny Quinn said.

"It'll be more easily accessible to look something up or refresh on a point that you're confused on. And you would have a lot more access to be able to connect with your teachers...it'll help enhance the participation in classes," freshman Sierra Gorton said.

"You're going to see much better classes and a lot more innovation," Dr. John Pratte, dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics, said.

Dean Pratte said the iPads also made economic sense.

"They're relatively cheap...we're talking about devices that are $300. Well, you know, a textbook is $300 now...but for my class, the textbook's free. I wrote the textbook and, you know, I update it and everything else," Pratte said.

Students can bring their own iPad if it's an iPad 2 or newer. They can also buy one from the university, which costs about $330 to $600, or rent it from the school for $50 a semester.

Quinn and Gorton said they already had iPads.

"My books only cost $300 because the rest are gonna be on here. And so I think that's gonna save a lot of money, too," Quinn said.

ASU now requires every freshman to take "Making Connections," a first-year of college experience course that's completely digital.

There are several other classes that now focus on supporting student engagement and learning with the iPad.

Dean Pratte has taught the same class for almost 20 years, but now he is teaching it a different way.

"In a world where I can call up, you know, really anything as quickly as possible, why should I worry about tests that are mostly memorization tests? I don't need to lecture anymore and so if you're having these discussions, it's nice to have these around."

Pratte said the iPad has allowed him to expand his curriculum more than ever before.

"Putting in a group project for having them design a house. And really start looking at all the factors that go into the house. So, what kind of insulation material do you have? What kind of windows? How would you orient the house?," Pratte said. "This is not something we could have done 15 years ago. The technology wasn't there."

He also plans to do calculations, research, discussions, and more, all with the iPads.

"Everyone is trying to become more technologically savvy. Trying to get rid of the textbooks and now everyone's trying to progress and I think ASU making this step is gonna be a big deal and maybe U of A and other colleges will start looking into this," Quinn said.

Quinn and Gorton agreed textbooks will soon be obsolete.

"There may be like a classroom set so they can be like, 'Look, this is what we used five years ago' and they're like extinct fossils. I think everything's gonna end up being on the iPad," Gorton said.

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