We are nearly through the second full year of our 1:1 iPad project, and it has been a very busy time – thus the hiatus in posts here. After two pilots in 2010 and 2011, we are now firmly invested in continuing to be a fully 1:1 iPad college, and have seen the benefits of it for both students and teaching staff.


They are keen to get their brand new iPad out of the box and get started on purchasing some study-related apps.

Yet, with more and more tablet computers coming on to the market, I thought it might be a good time to have a look back and consider what has been behind much of the success we have seen across our programs, and at the same time address the topic of why the BYOD path is not one we are considering. The best things? Connectivity, reliability, confidence, opportunity, creativity. In a series of posts I will explore the above features one by one. This week, connectivity.

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In August and October this year, Trinity was fortunate enough to get two visits to the college by specialists from Apple Australia. In August, an Apple Development Executive in Education presented on the Apple program iBooks Author to a group of rapt teachers in the Gourlay Basement, bringing a set of Macbook Air laptops so that we could all participate actively, and learn to make an iBook. Later in October we were fortunate to be visited by a Digital Education Content Specialist, who introduced us to iTunes U, and the possibilities of using the recently updated Apple platform to host courses, and distribute video and other course material to students.

Our Apple educator presenting on the features of iBooks Author to TCFS teachers and administrators.

iBooks Author

The opportunity to learn from the experts, and have professional presenters taking us through the finer points of these products, was much appreciated. Many of us are already convinced about the potential benefits of creating custom-designed learning materials for our students, which have engaging and interactive features.

Staff engaged with the presentation, and making their own iBooks.

iBooks Author makes custom designing engaging materials a fairly simple proposition. Our presenter showed us the ease with which pre-prepared materials including text, images, videos, quizzes and even 3D interactive objects can be transformed into a book that our students can open and read on their iPads.

Many staff at Trinity have already been making and distributing iBooks to our students, notably in Biology, Chemistry, Literature and EAP. The iBook format enables students to extensively highlight relevant sections for study, and to also take detailed notes which can then be transformed into flash cards for revision. We hope after  this visit that many more TCFS teachers will take up the opportunity to design and create iBooks for students. Further in-house training will continue to be made available. Some of the February Main 2012 students have themselves also been making iBooks using iBooks Author for their final group assignments in Media and Communications.

iTunes U

iTunes U has really transformed over the past few months. What was initially a sort of catalogue of free videos and podcasts from universities and colleges, is now a slick and sophisticated platform for distributing written, video and audio course materials. On the iPad, the iTunes U app has a very user-friendly interface. Course materials can be posted all together, or one “post” at a time, notifying subscribed students that there are new materials available to be viewed and read.

Course material on offer in iTunes U course, Learning to Teach Online, COFA Online, UNSW. Creator Simon McIntyre.

It is now possible for individuals, and institutions, to create private courses for iTunes U, for free. Students can subscribe to the course through their Apple IDs, after instructors provide students with the link. If the course is considered to be of high quality and general interest, the course may be accepted by Apple to appear as a publicly accessible course in iTunes U.

Notes taken during video, “Considerations for choosing technology for teaching” in iTunes U course Learning to Teach Online by Simon McIntyre, COFA Online, UNSW.

Some of the really exciting features of the new iTunes U experience, is that as the video materials are playing, it is easy to pause the video to take notes. This creates a time stamp and a small thumbnail. When you look at your list of notes, it is possible to touch on the time stamp and be taken to that exact point in the video for review. We have received a code and link to begin experimenting within an institutional framework to see how iTunes U might be used to distribute unique courses, or sets of resources for students to download and study.

There are many potential uses for iTunes U, and for iBooks Author, and as we move further into the digital age, we are interested in exploring the potential of all resources available to us to positively engage our unique students in their studies, and to create for them the best learning experiences that we can. The great free tools described here cannot be overlooked for their potential benefits.

Thanks to Apple Australia for making these amazing professional development opportunities available for our teachers.

In 2012 Trinity College welcomed it’s first full cohort of Foundation Studies students into a 1:1 iPad teaching and learning environment. In February this year approximately four hundred students began the full program which will run until December. In 2010 and 2011 we ran two pilot programs with a smaller group of students over a shorter time frame. Discussion of these pilots and the perspectives of staff and students can be seen in earlier posts, and in our first Report. A more formal evaluation of the second pilot is still forthcoming. See the previous post for some insights into how students from our first iPad Pilot performed in the 2011 February Main Program.

As the infiltration of mobile technologies into our classrooms and lecture theatres has become ubiquitous over the past two years, it becomes less imperative to be asking what are the academic benefits to students and teachers of mobile technologies, and more interesting to be asking in what ways we can exploit the presence of mobile technology to engage students more with interactive tasks, encourage broader questioning and critical thinking, and demand from students a greater involvement in their own learning – and particularly at Trinity, in the tools students can employ to further their English language learning. We feel that these objectives are not far away from realisation, and the anecdotal evidence gathered so far from teachers and students is very encouraging.

Although debate appears to be still raging in academic and school communities about the benefits of iPads, with frequent articles appearing in education forums questioning the benefits of 1:1 iPad programs, there is a wealth of information available to assist individual institutions decide if their school or college would benefit. There is some convincing evidence that in specific programs, academic results do improve. It is a very individual decision, but given that no institutions which have conducted iPad projects have – to my knowledge – recommended that computers and laptops be fully done away with to make way for iPad only learning, the continuing fears seem unjustified. In higher education where many students bring their own mobile devices, educators are confronting the demand from students to make available course materials which also work well with mobile platforms. In Australia, many universities, including the University of Melbourne, have already or are appointing e-learning coordinators, and revamping their Learning Management Systems to facilitate mobile access. With such moves it seems appropriate for schools to be paving the way for their students to be efficient and effective users of mobile devices for learning.

School, college and university iPad programs conducted worldwide all seem to agree on one important factor influencing success – the need to support and train teaching and academic staff to use iPads and other mobile technologies in the best ways for students to benefit within their particular contexts.

English for Academic Purposes (EAP) students from the August Extended Program 2011, present their film to fellow students and staff members.

So, what kinds of things have we been doing to facilitate and encourage the above ambitions?

Well there has been a great deal of excitement about using the audio and video recording facilities on the iPad to get students involved in a number of activities which seek to enhance their English language proficiency, including film-making, script writing, and creating subtitles for films.

EAP (English for Academic Purposes) teacher Robin Baker set his August Extended students the task of incorporating an abstract phrase into their film script, and the four resulting films were screened at the end of their course in early 2012. Although it was a big task for the students, they rose to the challenge of doing something which had not been attempted before in EAP.

The video and audio capacity of the iPad has also enabled students to practice pronunciation in many subject areas with specialised vocabulary; to record and then evaluate their own and others’ performances in delivering presentations in subjects as diverse as Psychology, Environment and Development, and Drama. Our specialist teacher in English pronunciation has recorded films and slide shows for students to watch on their iPads, to see how sounds should look as they are spoken. He is sharing these with students through Dropbox, providing a new resource for them to work with outside of classes.

From June 2012 our incoming students have received the New iPad on arrival, so we are also looking forward to seeing what the potential there is with the New iPad’s dictation feature, and how we might exploit this option to create some interesting tasks and activities around language pronunciation.

Other groups of students have recorded interviews, presentations and group discussions across a number of subjects, to enable review and revision for improving their presentation techniques. Speaking in front of audiences is an integral part of many of our subjects, and is a demand students will need to meet when at University.

Page from one of our works in progress – a custom-made iBook for the Literature program, produced in iBooks Author.

Designing and creating new curriculum materials to engage students, while also encouraging refinement of content and delivery,  has also become a focus for our innovations in 2012. Many of our teachers across the curriculum are making iBooks with iBooks Author, the free Apple software. So far we have iBooks created for use in Biology, Literature and Chemistry.

Some targeted professional development is being made available to teachers who are wanting to learn how to design and make ebooks for course notes, subject guides, and many other purposes. The need to tailor-make materials, work sheets, lecture notes and unit guides for our subjects, invites us to think much more deeply about the design of learning materials, and how well they are suited to the mobile devices our students have.

This is especially important when working in class groups, and when reading long pages of text in a tutorial setting is impractical. One of the good outcomes of this need to reflect and redesign is that we are taking particular notice of how students interact with their course materials, and if they are achieving the purposes we anticipate. Some kinds of materials are better suited for later reading, either on an iPad or a computer, while others are best suited for in-class thinking and reflection on their iPads. I think this is an important opportunity we have to reflect not only on the suitability of materials, but also the suitability of our learning activities. It makes us reflect, re-evaluate, and redesign to suit the new environment, while also being cognizant of the need to meet the needs of students who appreciate flexibility in the ways they work and study.

iPads have merged seamlessly into the classroom, and become an invaluable tool to enhance engagement, and speed the drafting process.

Case Study – Writing Skills

Working with our students to improve their writing skills in English is always a priority, as this is a fundamental skill students will need to succeed at University in Australia. In Literature and EAP in particular, students are required to practice their writing skills by completing paragraph writing assignments in class time. With every student in the class equipped with an iPad, such writing tasks can be drafted and edited and submitted within class time, and then if necessary, the teacher can provide feedback for improvement. Peer reviewing of students’ written work is also an upcoming prospect.

However, one aspect of this process of learning to write better in English, which was highlighted by several students from the last August and September intake in our ongoing research, was that always writing using a computer / mobile device with a spell checker and a keyboard, made learning vocabulary through practicing hand writing more challenging. Writing out words using a pen and paper is something these students have come to rely upon as a mechanism for improving vocabulary, and accurate spelling. So, while I don’t see this finding as an argument against iPads, I do see it as a reflection of how teachers need to be responsive to students’ actual needs and ways of learning, and to build flexibility into their program designs. It often takes a change in a learning environment to make visible processes and practices which generally remain taken for granted. This gives us the opportunity to reflect further, consult with students about their needs, and involve them in the design and delivery of their courses much more.

In the near future, we hope to bring you some preliminary results of our ongoing evaluation of our iPad program.


In Semester One 2012 the University of Melbourne allocated the following undergraduate scholarships to the Trinity College Foundation Studies students who came through the Trinity iPad Program:

1 X 100% fee waiver

2 X 50% fee waiver

7 X 10% fee waiver

In total 10 TCFS iPad students received scholarships, 24% of the total graduating cohort of the students from the iPad Pilot Program.

The iPad students, who commenced their Trinity studies as August Extended students in 2010 before joining the larger February Main cohort in 2011, comprised 10.3% of the February Main 2011 cohort. The iPad students attracted 40% of the scholarships (10 of the 25) that were offered to the February Main graduating students who began undergraduate study at the University of Melbourne in Semester One 2012.

Since the start of 2012 all TCFS students have been allocated iPads, and it will be interesting to monitor their academic progress throughout this year. Hopefully we can look forward to high levels of academic engagement and achievement for all students and also look forward to future scholarship winners.

Today the new February Main 2012 students of Trinity College Foundation Studies (TCFS) begin their orientation activities. A key component of their academic orientation will be the distribution of iPads for use in the classroom and for study at home, in the library, or wherever students happen to be inspired or pressed by an assessment deadline. As we prepare a new cohort to commence their academic program using iPads, it is worthwhile reflecting both on the effectiveness of Trinity’s original iPad Pilot Program and the rationale for extending iPad use to all TCFS students and academic staff.

Final academic results for the iPad Pilot Group within Trinity College Foundation Studies show that iPad students achieved the highest individual scores in the 2011 February Main cohort. The iPad students achieved higher average scores than their February Main classmates. The iPad students also did better on average than classmates from their home countries.

TCFS became one of the first institutions in the world to trial iPads in the classroom when forty-four August Extended students and their teachers received the devices for use across the curriculum starting in August 2010. The August Extended students joined the February Main course in February 2011, comprising approximately 10% of the total February Main cohort of 406 students. These students completed their foundation studies in December 2011, prepared for entry to university in 2012. A higher percentage of the iPad students achieved scores required for entry to the University of Melbourne than non-iPad students who were enrolled in the same February Main course.

Background to August Extended

The August Extended Program is a long-established and academically successful small course that runs from August to February, with graduates joining the large February Main Program to complete their foundation studies before entering university. August Extended students are generally younger than their classmates in February Main, having in most cases left school in their home country one year earlier to come to Australia. August Extended students enter Trinity with lower IELTS scores than direct-entry February Main students (5.5 compared to 6). August Extended students come overwhelmingly from two countries: China and Indonesia, but a small number come from other countries such as Vietnam.

From August to early February, August Extended students study English (including Literature and Drama), History of Ideas, Mathematics, and a range of electives depending on their course objectives (Science or Arts/Commerce). Once they join the larger group in February Main, August Extended students undertake the same range of subjects and have the same classroom contact hours as other students in the February Main Program.

Despite entering TCFS with one year less of formal study in their home country and lower IELTS scores than their February Main direct-entry classmates, August Extended students traditionally achieve slightly higher average final scores than their February Main classmates. This trend was especially pronounced for the iPad Pilot Group at the top range of academic scores.

At the very peak of the marks scale, the iPad Pilot Group achieved the highest scores ever for August Extended students.

The joint top students for the February Main 2011 Intake came from the August Extended iPad Group, both with a Best 4 Average of 99%. This is the first time that the joint dux students have come from August Extended. Previous highest scores for recent August Extended students include: 96% in 2006; 98% in 2007; 97% in 2008; and 95% in 2009. None of these earlier August Extended students were dux of February Main.

August Extended iPad Pilot students performed significantly better than the general February Main cohort in terms of outstanding academic scores.

Students with a Best 4 Average of 95% or above

iPad Students: 19%    All February Main: 7%

Students with a Best 4 Average of 90% or above

iPad Students: 42%    All February Main: 33%

Best 4 Average All Students

iPad Students: 86.6%    All February Main: 84.5%

August Extended iPad Pilot students also performed better than the cohort from their home country.

Final Best 4 Results by Nationality: iPad & Combined February Main

China (iPad): 86.88%    All China: 85.2%

Indonesia (iPad): 84.85%    All Indonesia: 84.5%

Vietnam (iPad): 92%    All Vietnam: 88.1%

The statistics by nationality are significant given that August Extended students comprised a reasonably large proportion of the relevant nationality intakes:
China: 21%   Indonesia: 28%   Vietnam: 23%

Comparison of iPad August Extended and non-iPad August Extended

Of all August Extended groups, the iPad cohort achieved the best marks at the very highest range (students achieving Best 4 Average grades of 99% or above).

The iPad Pilot Group achieved the second highest Best 4 Average score of all August Extended cohorts (86.6% compared to 88.87% for the 2007 cohort).

The iPad Pilot Group achieved much better top-range scores than the average of the previous six years for August Extended students with excellent results (95% or above).

Students with a Best 4 Average of 95% or above

2004 to 2009 Average for August Extended: 9.9%    2010 iPad Group: 19%

In a series of surveys, interviews, and meetings held with participants in the original iPad Pilot, TCFS students and staff overwhelmingly recommended iPad use to future students and all teachers. They reported good educational outcomes from iPad use, particularly in the four areas of active learning techniques, individualising content for students, real time access to information, and collaborative learning. With the release of final academic results for the Pilot Program students in December 2011, it is very pleasing to see that recommendations from students and staff, and their comments about the quality of the educational experience with iPads, have been reinforced by the data on academic achievement.

The 2010 iPad Group was the largest August Extended cohort up to that time. (It has since grown 50% in 2011 after the successful introduction of the iPad). Throughout 2011 TCFS deployed iPads to all academic staff, with related training and a second trial of iPads with students in August Extended 2011 and September Extended 2011. As a result of the successful trials of iPads in 2010 and 2011, TCFS has implemented a program for all TCFS students to receive iPads for use in their studies. From the start of 2012 all new students in every intake will be allocated an iPad during Orientation. Our aim in using iPads across the curriculum is to provide students with the opportunity to go further academically, to go faster, and to have more fun. So far, all signs are positive.

In conjunction with the latest iPad Pilot underway at Trinity College Foundation Studies, there is research and evaluation work in progress to determine how we can best develop the most engaging and challenging programs for our Foundation Studies students. If you are interested in knowing more about this research, please look here at some excerpts from the Literature Review which has been undertaken, including the interim research questions, rationale for the research focus, and a selection of the Works Cited from the Literature Review. Our first pilot was also extensively evaluated in the Step Forward Report, which is also still available

As educators all around the world consider the fast developing options for personal mobile technologies available to their students, it is essential to share experiences, discuss, debate and engage with one another. As our last post demonstrated, collaboration between institutions, and sharing information and experiences really adds to the feeling of being embarked on an exciting journey as educators – an experience which students should be invited into, and enabled in many ways to shape for themselves.

It is also important to consider the systems and supports which are required to maintain the programs and curriculum – including the ways staff are engaging in professional development; the ways students are using their iPads in and out of the classroom for learning, and from these findings, to determine how to direct our future plans in ways which will maximise the benefits for our students. One key reference text which is guiding the research process is a collection of essays edited by Vavoula Giasemi, Norbert Pachler, and Agnes Kukulska-Hulme. Researching Mobile Learning: Frameworks, Tools and Research Designs.(2009) Oxford, Bern, Berlin: Peter Lang Verlag.

If you have any questions about the research, please comment here, or at the Academia.edu site. Comments and questions welcome.

On Tuesday 23 August, one day after the launch of Trinity’s second iPad pilot, we were pleased to host colleagues from Redlands College in Queensland. Craig Zaki, Annamari Twomey, Lucy Clinch and Adam Ayling dropped by to share experiences using iPads in the classroom. While Jennifer Mitchell and I were not in a position to demonstrate the use of iPads in the classroom that morning (because our August and September students had only arrived on Monday and were still undergoing orientation activities) we were happy to share the results of our earlier trial that ran from August 2010 until February 2011. We also discussed the extensive professional development with Trinity staff that has taken place throughout 2011.

In a broad ranging discussion we shared classroom experiences, anecdotes of how the varying cohorts of students adapt to the devices, useful applications to apply across disciplines or for very specific subjects, and the trials and tribulations of dealing with certain technical issues and attitudes. We agreed that things evolve quickly and are worth revisiting. (For example, Trinity had less than ideal experiences with E-Clicker in 2010 but Redlands has been using it seamlessly this year. We shared work together on SyncSpace, an application that is fairly new to us, and discussed the potential of SyncSpace for collaborative work in the classroom. Both Redlands and Trinity reported good experiences with Dropbox, and we’ve also appreciated updates and developments in a range of other applications, including Evernote.)

From discussions ranging through Maths and English to Physics and Japanese, with parallel conversations about staff professional development workshops and our experiences with Moodle and Turnitin, it is obvious that Craig, Annamari, Lucy and Adam have put a great deal of effort and imagination into the Redlands program and like Trinity see use of the iPads in a comprehensive and evolving manner. It is also clear both from their continued enthusiasm and the dynamic experiences in their classrooms that students and staff are finding real benefits.

We also discussed the light-hearted and the vexing. We learnt the tricks of students playfully locking classmates out of their devices (something Trinity hadn’t experienced before) and in turn discussed the wi-fi load issues that can complicate roll out to big groups of students when large numbers suddenly connect all at once (something that Trinity had experienced the previous day). We also explored the manner in which both Redlands and Trinity are using modern technology to encourage greater responsibility, independence and creativity among students, and the way in which iPads as a fast, light, flexible and connected device enable group work inside and outside the classroom as well as greater scope for students to individualise their work. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting ready to study

TCFS students receive their iPads, 22 August 2011

On 22 August 2011 we moved to the next stage of our iPad trial at Trinity College Foundation Studies by welcoming students into the August Extended and September Extended programs. Each student was allocated an iPad to be used throughout their studies in Melbourne.

Use of iPads with the August and September cohorts of students is the final preparation before using iPads with every new student in every subject for all TCFS intakes commencing in 2012.

We ran our original trial of iPads in the classroom from August 2010 until February 2011, and this trial was very successful, leading to a recommendation from staff and students to expand the program in 2011 and beyond. Earlier this year Trinity rolled out iPads to all academic staff, with associated professional development led by Jennifer Mitchell and educational discussions held within academic departments. This preparation enabled plenty of time for skills training and curriculum development before the full implementation in 2012. At the same time we had ongoing improvements to our classroom AV equipment and close collaboration with staff in Information Technology Services, especially Martin Steers and Trent Anderson, to make sure that iPads were well integrated in teaching spaces and well supported.

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The TCFS iTunes Card Mural

Well, it’s less than a week until the new students taking part in our pilot repeat arrive to begin their education journey with iPads at Trinity College Foundation Studies. Our preparation, as you can read in earlier posts, has focused on training our teachers, exploring new approaches to teaching and learning, and maximising student engagement. We’ve been pondering not only the logistics of implementation, distribution, and management, but also paying close attention to how we will be using iPads in the classroom, and how to best meet the needs of our particular students. It’s not all about the apps. Still, we’d like to share with you our app list for this Pilot – take two.

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Apologies for the lack of posts over the past few months. It’s been a very busy time for everyone here at Trinity College Foundation Studies. In late April we got the go ahead to proceed to the final stage of our pilot program – the full rollout of iPads to all new students enrolled in our Foundation Studies programs, from 2012. This exciting news and the certainty it brings has given the “Step Forward Program” a new surge of energy and activity.

Foremost among the activities taking up much of our attention is supporting over eighty teachers to further develop their expertise in mobile technology, and integrate the iPad into their teaching practices. We are currently planning and working towards another pilot with students in the August and September intakes in 2011. This will be a chance to further experiment, conduct some quality research and evaluation, and refine our approaches before commencing with our main programs from February 2012.

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