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Friday, September 14, 2012

Are pens and pencils things of the past?

This is from a recent issue of The Standard, Missouri State University, entitled, "Pens and Pencils are SO Last Year," by Dayle Duggins...

When kinesiology major Tim Williams was told to take out a pen or pencil in class last week, he and his classmates exchanged confused looks and laughed. No, it wasn’t because Williams and his peers didn’t want to take a departmental survey, it was because they had yet to pick up a pen or pencil in Dr. Sarah McCallister’s classroom this school year.
As of the start of the school year, kinesiology majors are required to have an iPad, while those taking kinesiology courses — besides Fitness for Living — must have access to an iPad.

McCallister, who is in her seventh year as the kinesiology department head, said the tool not only helps students with coursework, but gives them a major advantage in the real world, as the technology is prominent in clinical establishments and many of the jobs kinesiology students seek.
Kinesiology — or the art and science and study of movement — incorporates physical education, exercise, and movement science, radiography, respiratory therapy, and much, much more.
Because students are learning about the complex workings of the human body, tools like the iPad make the subject much easier to understand, according to McCallister.
“It touches on all the different learning styles,” McCallister said. “It can do things a computer can’t; it’s portable and less expensive for students.”
How, exactly, is purchasing an iPad that can cost up to $829, if loaded with a ton of memory, cost-effective?
According to McCallister, the iPads most of the kinesiology students purchase can pay off in a semester. By introducing students to e-books and extremely relevant — and free — applications, it offsets the cost of books. McCallister also said if something, such as an iPad, is required for a class, it can be covered by financial aid.
Williams, a senior in the program, said he couldn’t be more pleased with the technology he, at first, was extremely skeptical about. Now, after two weeks of classes with the iPad requirement, Williams said he plans to use the tool when he becomes an elementary physical education teacher.
“My first thought was ‘here goes a pretty big chunk of change,’” he said. “Now, I absolutely love it. The educational uses far outweigh any negative thoughts.”
Above all else, Williams said being better prepared and more qualified as a teacher is the ultimate benefit — something McCallister had hoped for from the start of the process last January.
“We want our students to be the best and most marketable,” she said. “We couldn’t see sending our students out not prepared to use it (iPads) in their jobs.”
Not only is the tool preparing students for the future, but it makes it easier to communicate, incorporates interactivity, immediate feedback, and makes it simple to collaborate in the classroom, McCallister said.
Brenda Goodwin, an assistant professor in the department, agrees.
“It’s created excitement and passion for what we know and love,” Goodwin said. “What I have tried to do is take this tool and do two things: show kids how they can, as a teacher, use it and manage their classes with it and how they can use it to get their students to buy into the content of their class.”
Goodwin, who was concerned about the additional cost at first, now sees the tool as a cost-saver for students. Williams, who has taken Goodwin’s classes, is on the same page.
“I definitely think it’s feasible for students,” Williams said. “Money saved over time is a huge plus.”
Having a tool he can use in his class and engage his students is a huge plus as well, according to Williams.
“The biggest benefit is that I’ll be more prepared and qualified as a teacher,” he said.
While the iPad takes away some teacher-student interaction, McCallister said the educational tool will never replace the value of face-to-face learning.
“We don’t want to be behind; we want to be ahead,” she said.

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