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The University iPad Journey: Straight Road or Long and Winding?

Alice Shepherd (University of Leeds, United Kingdom)
Session Information
July 7, 2015 - 5:30pm
Faculty Development & Student Support
Areas of Special Interest: 
Institutional Initiatives
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Best Practices
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Discovery Session
Plaza Foyer
Session Duration: 
60 Minutes
Discovery Session 1

This presentation explores institutional experiences of planning and supporting the rollout of iPads for over 1,100 postgraduate students to support their programmes of study.

Extended Abstract

Presentation description and goals

What participants will learn

Method to structure pedagogical integration of iPads (can be applied to tablets and other technologies e.g. web-based tools) which can be used for faculty development and support
Overview of student survey results on their uses of technologies for study
Example of a sustainable faculty and student support model for institutional iPad rollout
Lessons learned from institutional iPad rollout and recommendations for best practices

Summary of content

Six faculty members of the Accounting and Finance subject group ran a successful faculty iPad pilot in 2013, exploring how iPads could support existing pedagogies and facilitate new ways of teaching and learning. This identified 7 strands of iPad discovery which were considered in the planning of the full rollout to students and faculty.

In the planning phase, we felt that building a picture of students technology ownership, uses and preferences for study was particularly important to inform effective, sustainable student support and appropriate module and programme development integrated with the iPad implementation. Recent literature (Kinash et al, 2012; White and Le Cornu, 2011) suggests a potential disconnect between how students use technologies in their personal lives and their educational lives. Faced with limited evidence about this in our own context as a UK research-intensive business school, we surveyed incoming undergraduate and postgraduate taught students on Accounting and Finance programmes, during induction in September 2013 (the year prior to iPad rollout).

The results of the student survey confirm that experiences and preferences regarding the range of devices, tools and websites about which the students were asked are diverse, implying that support and training needs regarding educational uses of technologies are similarly diverse. Our statistical analysis suggests that there are clustered behavioural patterns, some of which appear to be strongly embedded before students arrive at the university. Certain technologies are being widely used by students in their personal lives, but it appears they have not (yet) crossed the divide to educational use.

Given this evidence, we planned a flexible support model in which 10 student iPad champions from the 2014/15 masters cohort were appointed and tasked with supporting their peers in using their iPads for study. Faculty development was provided in formal training sessions and supported by faculty iPad champions in each subject area. This was coupled with online support via a dedicated faculty and student-facing website. Dedicated subject-specific iPad training was provided by subject groups at induction and by module and programme leaders on a just in time basis. Most students were provided with at least one of their textbooks as an ebook on their iPad and other devices.

We recommend that institutional teams consider having a menu of flexible options in terms of student support and training for tablet integration, including ensuring additional basic training on core functionality and technologies is available for those who need it, as well as considering carefully the pedagogic integration of relevant tools and related skills training gradually throughout their modules and programmes, such that students are not overwhelmed by information at induction that is later forgotten.

Which participants would benefit from attending this session?

Faculty involved in developing blended learning programmes/modules
Learning technologists involved in supporting faculty/students in their use of technologies to support their studies, including tablet devices
Institutional leaders involved in sponsoring blended learning initiatives

Presentation format

This will be a discovery session in which a short presentation drawing on this evidence and our experiences will be interspersed with opportunities for the audience to ask questions of the presenter.


The presentation slides will be uploaded to the conference repository. These will include links to the iPads support website and a summary of the iPad discovery strands.

Lead Presenter

I am a UK-qualified chartered accountant and spent time working as an audit, risk asssurance and technical manager at PwC. Seven years ago, I moved into accountancy training at Kaplan Financial, and then into academia at Manchester Business School (University of Manchester). I have been in my current role since January 2013. I am faculty Blended Learning Academic Champion and an iPad champion, and have piloted various blended learning tools and approaches. I recently received a Master of Arts in Online and Distance Education from the Open University's Institute of Educational Technology. I have been studying for this degree as an online student since 2010.