In fall 2013, California State University, Northridge launched the myCSUNtablet initiative, which aims to provide CSUN students with engaging digital learning material at reduced costs — as opposed to sitting in traditional courses and purchasing textbooks. The initiative uses Apple iPad technology, including e-texts, apps and other digital resources.
The tablet initiative gained popularity and recognition during the past four years. It won the Apple Distinguished Program award in 2015, which has since been renamed the Apple Distinguished School Award. CSUN won the latter award earlier this year.
“This award is recognition for innovative work underway at CSUN around the myCSUNtablet initiative,” said Associate Vice President of Academic Technology Deone Zell. “[It] also allows CSUN to work closely with other Apple Distinguished schools to learn their best practices and ideas.”
CSUN collaborates with 10 other distinguished schools within the U.S. and – depending on the topic – several other international campuses.
With the tablet initiative, CSUN students in the Departments of Biology, Journalism, Kinesiology, Liberal Studies, Physical Therapy and Public Health, and College of Engineering and Computer Science can select designated iPad courses. These courses do not require physical textbooks — only an iPad, which students can purchase on a payment plan. The Departments of Psychology and Special Education also recently have joined the program.
“At first I was hesitant to take an iPad course because of the expense of purchasing an iPad,” said Yvonne Zimmerman, a junior in the journalism department. “But then I decided to enroll because I figured I would learn more about technology in that class versus a regular course.”
Zimmerman enrolled in three iPad courses in the journalism department and said she gained additional technological skills in note-taking, editing and digital media creation.
“I became more confident in using apps and software programs,” she said. “Students should be well-versed with multiple apps that can save time and make them more efficient workers.”
Along with the expansion to more departments, myCSUNtablet also has grown in content. Multiple faculty members have created learning material such as self-authored iBooks and course-tailored apps, available at no cost to the students. A few faculty members have started to explore and create content for virtual and augmented reality.
“myCSUNtablet continues to help students prepare for a future where technology is infused throughout the workplace — whether in the form of tools or software,” Zell said. “At CSUN, the initiative is helping students learn in more convenient, engaging and meaningful ways through the use of tablet tools and techniques such as the camera, the ability to write and take notes, upload assignments, manipulate data and carry their digital books around with them to study — wherever they are.”