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​Journalism students already using iPads to prepare for the real world

Yellow caution tape fluttered in the breeze on a sunny afternoon, marking a crime scene near Blankenship Hall. A scrum of reporters badgered away at an Ohio State police lieutenant, hunting for details and new information. They snapped photos, recorded interviews and fired off Tweets on their iPads, trying to get to the bottom of what had gone wrong.

Welcome to Nicole Kraft’s class on writing and editing for media at The Ohio State University. The crime scene is fake. But the lessons Kraft is teaching to these students are real enough – as are the methods she uses to teach them.

“You know the iPad is an amazing device for many reasons. Not the least of which, from a reporter’s standpoint, is there's really nothing that you need to do as a reporter, from writing and reporting, to shooting photos and video, to editing to social media, that you can’t do using just one device,” Kraft said.

Kraft, an assistant professor-clinical in the School of Communication, is also an Apple Distinguished Educator. She has made the iPads a critical tool in her classrooms.

“In 2013 I was the first recipient of the Digital First Impact grant,” Kraft said. “And it allowed me to put iPads in this specific class. We did a research project around it and the idea was, would journalism students learn better, faster and stronger if we gave them all the technology in one device? And we found that they did.”

Kraft and her students are leading the way, but the rest of the university is about to catch up. Ohio State recently announced the establishment of a Digital Flagship University initiative through a collaboration between the university and Apple.

The collaboration will integrate learning technology throughout the university, develop an iOS design laboratory on the Columbus campus and offer opportunities for students to learn coding skills. Beginning in autumn 2018, new first-year students at the Columbus and regional campuses will receive an iPad Pro.

Nicole Kraft teaches her student how to report using an iPad

Kraft’s students are believers.

“So in order to adequately cover breaking news you have to be able take people there. You have to be able to share the experience as the experience is happening,” said Jerrod Mogan, a third-year journalism major. “The iPad gives you a lot of different ways to do that. You can record video. You can take the pictures and then immediately integrate those into the stories as you share those with different social networking sites.”

Kaylee Harter, a second-year journalism student, was with Morgan at the fictional crime scene. She took pictures with her iPad, recorded interviews and developed her story without leaving the scene.

“I think a lot of us aren't aware of all the tools that are available with these devices,” Harter said. “In this class we're learning to use all these different apps and how to use them simultaneously, in order to work the most effectively and efficiently.”

Kraft isn’t just a teacher, she’s an experienced journalist who still practices the craft. The iPads support her teaching and help her students navigate real-world situations.

“You know I'm a big believer that it's the pedagogy that comes first and then it’s the technology that supports it,” she said. “So for me the technology enables them to be in the real world. Every assignment that they do has a real-world component to it.”

Kraft said she is excited to see Ohio State lead the way as a Digital Flagship University.

“I think it’s an unbelievable opportunity. I think Ohio State has long been a flagship in terms of providing opportunity for students. But now we’re putting everyone on equal footing in terms of creating a personalized learning environment,” she said. “That’s what this mission is going to provide. It’s really going to put everyone on an equal playing field and allow all of our students to engage in their coursework long after they leave the class environment and I think that’s where education is now.”