|Mount Aloysius College Awarded $15,000 LSTA Grant||11/5/2012|
Cresson, Pa. - Technology is synonymous with rapid change and today many employers make hiring decisions favoring tech-savvy candidates. Mount Aloysius College clearly sees the trend, and with a $15,000 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), the College made an investment in an innovative teaching modality that offers MAC students a leg up on their competition. The move further develops Mount Aloysius College’s “job-ready, technology-ready and community-ready ” strategy of student preparation.
The tool is the second generation iPad, and Misti Smith, MAC’s emerging technologies librarian loves it. “It’s a portable device, there’s a myriad of apps, and the process of learning to utilize it isn’t a difficult one. It’s a great piece of technology to merge into the world of education,” she said.
Mount Aloysius College’s LSTA grant was used for 20 second –generation iPads, a charging cart and HD TV.
MAC’s iPads are used to teach classes like Computer Science 103, a required tech course, and English 110, a writing course. The focus of classes using the iPad is problem-solving. The classes using the device are interactive instructional sessions taught by one of the Mount Aloysius librarians. In these sessions, students use iPads to conduct research and solve real-life problems.
Each 50-minute session includes 10 minutes of instruction on conducting a search for needed information. Instructors illustrate how to search, when to refine a search and what strategies to use. This is followed by 30 minutes when students actually search for information pertinent to the problem they’ve been assigned. The last 10 minutes is set aside for students to propose solutions to the problem, discuss their processes and evaluate sources.
"The iPad is a good tool for education because it can be used in all areas of study and because of its simple design, it puts the focus on learning, while lowering the technology learning curve, “ said Ms. Smith. “There isn’t one area of study that we couldn’t find a reliable app for,” she said.
MAC’s Library has a goal of conducting 50 interactive sessions benefiting students this year. With some already completed, early student surveys reflect success. According to Ms. Smith, “140 students total have taken part and of those, 98 percent thought it [the use of the iPads] was a benefit.”
Mount Aloysius President Tom Foley says the technology will assist in promoting critical thinking and technological competence among MAC students. “We want to make sure that our students are able to evaluate sources of information in a way that will promote the best educational use of that information, not just while they’re at Mount Aloysius but in their lives in the community and in the workforce,” he said.
President Foley appreciates the use of the iPad in this specific way.
While teaching at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine; he carried out similar exercises with students. Teaching “The Ethics of Research,” Foley assigned a specific lesson that included listing research sources on a blackboard. Sources included magazines, newspapers and journals. His instructions called for students to prioritize their listings from most to least reliable. From the results of this exercise, he illustrated how difficult it is for students to find reliable and valid sources.
Mount Aloysius expects that using iPads in the interactive learning sessions will drive home two lessons about incorporating technology into practical living. The first is exposing students to new uses for cutting-edge technology. Second, the sessions also encourage MAC students to be aggressive researchers; digging for new sources of information, yet constantly questioning the validity of what they find and where they find it.
The Mount Aloysius College Library, located near the western edge of the 193-acre campus, is open seven days a week. MAC Library hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 11:00 p.m.