Digital Blue School: Westminster Professors Go to Tech Classes
He may be an expert on Shakespeare, but Dr. Nate Leonard also is a tech guru who says Digital Blue is positively changing his approach to teaching literature. The newly-minted Associate Professor of English is so confident about the Apple iPad technology that he took Westminster College professors back to school last week for intense training sessions on the device, which students will receive on Friday, Aug. 23.
Leonard, who serves as the Associate Coordinator of Digital Blue, ought to know what he’s talking about — he recently received certification as an Apple Teacher and Apple Learning Academy Specialist after attending Apple Academy, a program offered by Apple Inc., in Cupertino, CA.
“I want to let you play,” Leonard told the audience of about 50 laughing faculty and staff members during a breakout tech session in Reeves Library. “Yes! I said play.”
“I see that you’ve blocked me,” Leonard then announced to someone in the class while pointing at the professor’s icon on the screen behind him.
After more chuckles and a few good-natured insults lobbed in his direction, Leonard demonstrated how each professor will set up his or her individual classroom in the iPad, how messages can be sent, students and faculty members can share ideas as if they are all standing at the same whiteboard at the same time, and most importantly to Leonard, how highlighted pages from literature texts or other documents can be airdropped immediately, bypassing the local wifi connection.
“You can share anything on this device, so it’s not like the old texts we use no longer exist. This is just very convenient, and the class has just about everything they need at their fingertips,” he explains.
Dr. Barri Bumgarner, Associate Professor of Education and Digital Blue Coordinator, agrees with Leonard.
“This technology will take Westminster into the 21st century and beyond,” says Bumgarner, who ran the campus-wide faculty member training sessions last week, which took place from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15. “I can teach at the Berlin Wall. I can use video. I can use interactive materials on my device. … Digital Blue allows our students to receive the most relevant education possible.”
Bumgarner adds that the 1:1 technology initiative has been in the works at Westminster for more than five years and that she is excited to see the program coming together.
Digital Blue faculty training sessions took place on campus last week from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15.
“I am so pleased we are able to offer our students this technology along with their already solid liberal arts education,” she adds thoughtfully.
Although all students will receive their iPads today, most professors received theirs last fall in order to grow comfortable with the new technology before completing their official Digital Blue training.
An Apple iPad tablet, Apple Pencil, and iPad charger will be provided to each student as a part of the educational experience at Westminster. And although devices are the property of the College throughout their education, students keep their iPads after graduation.
“These can be the textbooks and notebooks for every one of our students,” Leonard says. “I think they’re all going to love the possibilities that their device creates.”
Students will receive their iPads, Apple Pencils, and chargers on Friday at Digital Blue Check-In from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Coulter Science Center on the Westminster campus.