One Central Michigan University course is more unique than others when it comes to digital technology. Digital Media in Recreation, Parks and Tourism was created to teach students how to maximize use of the Apple iPad.
“The class is designed to give our students the tools they need to go out and compete better in the corporate world or wherever they end up after they graduate,” explains Mike Reuter, director of technology operations, who co-teaches the course with Dan Bracken, associate director for the Faculty Center for Innovative Teaching.
The course concentrates on the business uses for social networking and how to use the applications found on the iPad; Professor Patricia Janes of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services asked Reuter to teach her parks and recreation students to be “dangerous” with the higher-level technology that is desired and expected by today’s employers.
“They know how to find music and simple stuff, but 80 percent of students don’t know how to use the blackboard, even though the icons are on the screen,” was Reuter’s estimate, reports the Morning Sun, a Northern Michigan daily newspaper.
Danny Fancher, a 21-year-old junior taking the pilot class, is excited to be learning things that will "help him to be more tech savvy.” A former education major that decided to pursue a degree in commercial recreation, Fancher hopes the class will help him get his “foot in the door” with employers.
“It’s been an eye-opener with opportunities for critical thinking," said he said.
College students in the student teaching portion of their educational process are required to set up recording equipment to document their classroom work. Faculty assumed that students knew what they were doing, but Reuter explained that more than one student came back with nothing on their tapes due to hitting play instead of record during their teaching sessions.
This iPad-centric pilot course hopes to change that.
“We just finished an audio project where they created podcasts,” he said. "Next, they will use a GPS to update Foursquare,” which is an application that allows people to check in and rate locations within their communities and earn points and possibly receive discounts or freebies from businesses.
Issues about music piracy and video on the internet have also been covered in the class, and students learned about laws protecting artists and record companies.
The Central Michigan University course is not the only one using the iPad. Oklahoma State University provided 125 students in five communications and business courses with free iPads to test out as a classroom tool, and other colleges have started similar programs.
The iPad has also been pushed as an e-book reader comparable to the Amazon Kindle, but studies are finding that many students prefer paper textbooks over digital versions despite the heftier price tags.
Many students prefer bound books because they provide the ability to flip quickly between chapters, write in the book and highlight passages. Taking that into consideration, many digital applications are beginning to provide these abilities.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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