Cal State Northridge Launches myCSUNtablet Initiative

Journalism professor Melissa Lalum working with a student on an iPad. Photo by Lee Choo.

Journalism professor Melissa Lalum working with a student on an iPad. Photo by Lee Choo.

California State University, Northridge President Dianne F. Harrison has announced the launch of myCSUNtablet Initiative to reduce the cost and increase the quality of learning materials for CSUN students.

The initiative includes courses in multiple disciplinary programs across the campus. It will formally begin this fall in biology, journalism, public health, physical therapy, kinesiology, liberal studies and engineering and computer science. As part of the initiative, participating students will be able to purchase iPads on a payment plan and gain immediate access to e-texts, apps and other e-learning materials for their classes.

“This partnership represents the university’s commitment to explore new technologies to improve student learning and success, as well as help reduce costs for students,” said Harrison. “I’m delighted by this partnership with Apple and look forward to evaluating the impact this effort will have on learning.”

Hilary J. Baker, CSUN’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer, said the use of the iPads in the classroom is all about enhancing the student experience—reducing the cost and increasing the quality of learning materials for students.

“The myCSUNtablet Initiative uses Apple iPad technology as the enabler to provide new forms of teaching and learning materials in a single portable device for students to use anytime and anywhere,” Baker said.

University officials noted the cost for the iPads being used in the myCSUNtablet Initiative is less than what it would cost the students to purchase the traditional textbooks and materials that would normally be used in their courses. Students who already have iPads meeting the minimum requirements are free to use their own equipment. The university is also offering several payment plan options to spread the cost of an iPad out over a sequence of courses for those students who may need assistance.

Students may choose to participate in the myCSUNtablet Initiative by selecting designated “myCSUNtablet” course sections in the schedule of classes for the fall 2013 semester. These selected courses will not require a textbook. Instead, the courses will use digital materials on the iPad, including e-texts, apps and other learning materials.

University officials said the initiative would be evaluated regularly to examine the impact of tablets on student-learning outcomes. Faculty taking part in the myCSUNtablet Initiative will also be encouraged to convene periodically, either within departments or across departments, to share thoughts, breakthroughs, new apps, lessons learned and evaluate student/learner outcomes.

More than 70 faculty members are supporting the initiative and all student professional advisors will be using the iPad to help students register for classes in the fall.

Students already using their personal iPads for classwork said using the tablet has enhanced their learning experiences and they look forward to taking classes using it as a primary tool for coursework.

“It’s definitely worth it to have an iPad,” said chemistry major Shawnita Preyer. “The portability of being able to go where you need to go and to take everything with you, that’s the best.”

Teewa Saks, who is getting her master’s in elementary education, agreed.

“It’s amazing how you can take pictures and make videos. There are so many ways you can be creative with it,” she added.

Journalism professor Melissa Lalum said she looked forward to the start of the initiative.

“I think it’s an incredible opportunity to harness the multiple uses of a tablet to create more student-centered learning opportunities,” she said.

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