09:17 AM

Educators discuss technology innovation at Ohio State

Digital technology is helping improve the student experience at The Ohio State University in the classroom, in the pocketbook and in their daily lives. That was the conclusion at an event with Digital Flagship educators last week in Pomerene Hall.

Students who helped launch Ohio State’s Digital Flagship initiative spoke about their experiences with new iPads and iPad-enhanced classes. They joined staff and faculty to discuss technology in the classroom at the 2018 Innovate Faculty Showcase.

The Faculty Showcase is an annual fall event hosted by the Innovate conference as an interactive opportunity for instructors to learn how their peers and other members of the university community are teaching with technology.

Savannah Sockwell, a fourth-year public affairs major, worked on the launch of Digital Flagship. The program placed thousands of new iPads in the hands of new, first-year students at no cost to those students.

“Throughout that whole process, I was the first person a lot of students saw,” Sockwell said. “What I found was not only was this initiative going to help students in terms of knowledge of technology but it was also going to advance their learning capabilities.”

Sockwell joined fellow Digital Flagship student workers Brielle Davidson and Hanna Kim to explain how students are adapting to using the iPads. They explained the Notability app is one of the most common tools for students, allowing them to record lectures, take notes that are more creative and mark up classroom documents and presentations.

What I found was not only was this initiative going to help students in terms of knowledge of technology but it was also going to advance their learning capabilities.
Savannah Sockwell, fourth-year public affairs major

Sockwell said that as students become more comfortable with the technology, they are finding new apps and new tools to bring to their experience in the classroom. It goes beyond schoolwork, too. Sockwell said she notices students using scheduling software to make sure they schedule time with friends or self-care.

“I see students more liberated with their work,” she said.

Jennie Babcock, undergraduate program director at the College of Social Work, discussed some of the findings of a survey that showed the challenges students face buying textbooks. Babcock said students report sometimes that they cannot afford course books, look to buy older editions or buy textbooks later in the semester.

“It impacts their ability to be really successful,” she said.

Babcock said one solution is a digital textbook program that the College of Social Work is testing. The program is helping students in the college save as much as 78 percent off the list price of traditional textbooks. She said the issue is at the heart of the university’s commitment to access and affordability.

In spring semester, the pilot digital textbook program will include nine courses – five undergraduate classes and four graduate classes – and serve as many as 1,500 students, saving them almost $200,000. There are other benefits beyond saving money.

“Once a student enrolls in a course, the textbook is seamlessly there. They have access before the first day of class,” Babcock said.

Access to the textbook doesn’t go away at the end of the semester, so students can refer back to the books throughout their academic career. Babcock said that can be helpful during licensing testing.

Max Gulick, academic adviser at Ohio State’s Newark Campus, spoke about the need to change the mindset of teachers when it comes to assigning work on the iPads. He said it is often the opposite of a more traditional approach.

“Instead of saying ‘here’s a task and here’s a tool,’ we need to say ‘here’s an amazing tool and here’s the task we’re going to do it on,’” he said.

Cathy Ryan, senior lecturer in the Department of English, discussed the GradeCraft app, which uses well-designed games to aid learning. Ryan said instructors need to feel free to experiment in the classroom.

“I think those of us who work in the university should think of what we do as not only adaptation, and potentially being entrepreneurial, but to tinker with what we do in terms of learning,” Ryan said.