07:22 AM

Town hall offers update on Digital Flagship initiative

Incoming first-year students are just weeks away from receiving a technology suite that is a key piece of The Ohio State University’s Digital Flagship initiative. As the date gets closer, the team leading the initiative is working to answer the questions behind the launch, and the program as a whole.

Monday, Associate Vice President of Learning Technology Liv Gjestvang and Director of Learning Programs Cory Tressler spoke to a room filled with faculty and staff at the April Digital Flagship town hall in the CBEC building on campus. 

The presentation shared program goals and details about the initiative. Tressler updated the audience on a pilot program that launched iPad use in five different classes during Spring Semester. Students used the iPads for note taking, class assignments, reading materials and presentations.

“It gets us really excited about what is possible,” Tressler said.

He said the pilot helped inform programs that will teach students and faculty how to get the most out of the iPads in the classroom.

Starting this summer, new first-year students at the Columbus and regional campuses will receive an iPad Pro, case, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard at orientation as part of the initiative. The technology integration is designed to support student success and prepare students for a modern, mobile workforce.

The iPads are only one part of the initiative. Digital Flagship will also bring an iOS design laboratory to support the development of new apps, and coding curriculum to help students learn the Swift coding language. Students will have access to coding resources, business partnerships and professional development opportunities through the design lab.

“As a land-grant institution, we have historically had a commitment to educating the sons and daughters of Ohio,” Gjestvang said. “As we move to a more global, connected world and workforce, we expanded that commitment to share the resources, research and educational expertise that we have at Ohio State with the world.”

Trustees approved the lease agreement for the iPads earlier this month. The investment is aligned with the university’s new strategic plan. Putting these tools in the hands of all students serves the goal of leading in access, affordability and excellence. The Digital Flagship initiative also enhances the university’s commitment to teaching and learning as well as research and creative expression.

Melinda Sims, English as a Second Language composition lecturer, said she was excited about the launch of the Digital Flagship initiative. Sims teaches most of her classes online but was interested in learning about how the iPads would work in the classroom. She expects students will quickly adapt to the new technology.

“When there are technology problems, we figure it out and move forward,” she said.

Gjestvang said there will be a learning curve.

“We’re looking for the community to be there and help engage in conversation around what’s working,” she said. “Where are the opportunities? Where are the gaps we can fill? How can we continue to grow and develop the project to best serve the broader Ohio State community?”