Enhancing Learning Experiences with iPad Pro
Dr. Dylan Goldblatt, an Instructional Assistant Professor of German, uses Apple technology to help students learn German in an immersive and media-rich environment.
German Language at the University of Mississippi
German 111 and 211 courses are intensive, six-hour sequences that are taught Monday through Friday. In the 2017-18 academic year, the Department of Modern Languages replaced traditional print textbooks for these courses with digital course packs and textbooks. To facilitate the modernization of the learning experience for German, Dr. Goldblatt evaluated the utility and effectiveness of teaching with the new Apple iPad Pro.
The Unique Features of the iPad Pro
The iPad Pro enables instructors to integrate digital textbooks and open educational resources into the classroom. In the German section of the Department of Modern Languages, Dr. Goldblatt uses the iPad Pro to develop and deliver course content. Dr. Goldblatt found the iPad Pro to be an effective platform for German language courses for a variety of reasons.
- Apple’s iPad Pro supports the advanced operation of desktop-class software packages, such as Numbers, iMovie, Keynote, and iBooks.
- The iPad Pro is Apple’s most capable iPad in terms of screen size, processing capability, sound output, and stylus functionality.
- The iPad Pro’s generous screen size lends itself to greater ease of use and visibility in the classroom environment.
- The iPad Pro is compatible with keyboards (i.e. Smart Keyboard) and the Apple ecosystem of devices, such as the Apple TV (via Airplay) and the iPhone (via Airdrop).
The constellation of advanced technology in the iPad Pro supports the design of learning materials to support the interactive classroom experience with an eye toward future technological improvements and capabilities.
Technology and Innovation in the German Language Classroom
Dr. Goldblatt found numerous uses for the iPad Pro in the German language classroom. The following paragraphs detail usage scenarios for instructors and students.
Three times per semester, German students meet with their instructor for an oral interview. During these interviews, the iPad Pro facilitates audio recording and instant qualitative feedback. The video below demonstrates how an instructor can simultaneous record and evaluate student performance through the use of a digital rubric and background audio recording.
The most common use scenario for the iPad Pro was Keynote. With Keynote, Dr. Goldblatt created and delivered classroom presentations. The iPad Pro offers instructors a rich feature set, allowing for the inclusion of engaging animations and explanations. Keynote on iPad Pro also features remote control functionality so that the instructor may manipulate slides away from the lectern.
Occasionally, Dr. Goldblatt tasks students with the production of short films in German. For these projects, students can use the Apple Smart Keyboard to draft scripts in Pages. Next, students can bring the iPad Pro with them outside of the classroom to record film footage. Finally, students cut and screen these short films in iMovie on the iPad Pro. A clip from one such video project is included here.
When students find it necessary to consult the syllabus and the digital textbook, the iPad Pro offers a useful side-by-side interface. The video below displays the course syllabus alongside the linked grammar exercises. Additionally, the German language keyboard on the iPad Pro enables students to compose in German with ease.
The iPad Pro’s multitasking interface permits students to view videos in a foreign language alongside essential learning scaffolds, such as transcripts in PDF form and online dictionaries in Safari. Students can use iPad Pro to view video content with or without subtitles.
The iPad Pro with Apple Pencil helps students to highlight and notate documents. In German 111, students are asked to draft a blueprint of their own home for the purpose of learning key vocabulary around the house. The handwritten notes on the blueprint below are one example of presentation-quality work that German students have completed with an iPad Pro.
On the iPad Pro, German students can manipulate textbook pages and digital objects in a lifelike manner, and interact with the course learning material set with accessibility tools that support students with vision or motor challenges. The following video demonstrates how the iPad Pro’s built-in screen reading software brings German language text to life.
In conjunction with the iBooks platform, iPad Pro offers students the ability to play multimedia items alongside reading assignments. Students can also highlight new vocabulary for review later. This video shows how digital textbook assignments integrate with the iBooks virtual flashcard interface for learning new terms.
German 111 and 211 students completed anonymous surveys regarding their experiences with the technologically-enhanced learning environment. Students expressed that the implementation of the iPad Pro in German 111 facilitated engagement. One student wrote, “the way you can reach each person in the class feels so encouraging.” Another commented, “I’m having so much fun I can hardly stand it!” The daily inclusion of born-digital, iPad-based content helped students to embrace the German learning objectives. One student reported, “I can’t even begin to tell you what a privilege it is to be in this class.” Another stated that the German 111 course with iPad Pro enabled the instructor to deliver content with a “rare combination of precision, organization, and enthusiasm.” The above qualitative feedback is most encouraging. Dr. Goldblatt recommends further evaluation in order to understand the range of benefits that the iPad Pro offers to German language students, especially with regard to academic achievement and student engagement.