Posts Tagged ‘history’

Innovative iPad Use in Liberal Arts

June 12th, 2012 Comments off

Recently, Dr. Rebecca Frost Davis, Program Officer for the Humanities with the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), put out a call on the NITLE listserv asking for examples of innovate iPad use by humanities faculty. I’ve attached a link to her presentation in which she gives a number of model use cases, including three by our very own University of Alabama faculty, Dr. David Michelson (p. 28), Dr. Jonathan Whitaker (p. 30), and Dr. Margaret Peacock (p. 36). I’ve also provided direct links to the posts on this blog that detail the iPad work that Dr. Davis referenced in her presentation.

-Rebecca Johnson

Dr. Rebecca Davis’s presentation on iPad use

Dr. David Michelson’s iPad use

Dr. Jonathan Whitaker’s iPad use

Dr. Margaret Peacock’s iPad use


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Dr. Margaret Peacock–iPads and the Master Narrative

January 17th, 2012 Comments off

Dr. Margaret Peacock describes how using iPads in her history seminar helped students understand the significance of having access to primary materials.

-Margaret Peacock received her Ph.D. in Russian history from the University of Texas at Austin in 2009, her MS in information science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1997, and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Alabama. She has published multiple articles on semiotics and the history of youth and childhood in the Cold War. Her first manuscript, “Cold War Kids: Images, Childhood, and the Collapse of Cold War Consensus,” is forthcoming. Before becoming an historian she worked as an Oracle Database Replication Specialist and Java Programmer for Nortel Networks in the Silicon Valley.

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Dr. David Michelson–iPads in the History Classroom, Limitations and Opportunities

November 2nd, 2011 Comments off

I put the iPads to use in three settings: as a device shared between multiple students in class, as devices for individual student use in and out of class, and as a device for my own teaching, research, and service. My overall impression was that having a tablet computer was very useful in all three settings.

The iPad allowed me to have a library of reference resources available in class at a moment’s notice. It also enabled students to consult documents collaboratively in a small group without trying to huddle around a laptop. Similarly, the iPad allowed a way for students to access the web simultaneously in class. Other benefits included having a common technology platform for the course, which allowed me to offer the first course in my department (and perhaps the college) that used only digital readings. A final benefit came through the improved productivity for me as a teacher, researcher, and colleague in having a highly mobile computer to take with me wherever I needed to be on campus.

Feedback from student usage also raised some drawbacks to the use of iPads. First, using iPads as a one-size-fits-all approach to mobile computing was not practical. The most technologically savvy students found little need for the iPad when they already had an iPhone and a netbook. As a faculty member I also see the practicality of using different devices or operating systems, depending on the needs of the course or objective. A second drawback is the financial question. While students were grateful that the cost of the pilot program placed little burden on them (other than purchasing 3G or apps), they universally worried about costs if a campuswide program were implemented. Similarly as a faculty member, I found that purchasing apps was problematic without funding and awkward within the constraints of Apple’s single-user system rather than a university site license.

These issues notwithstanding, I would strongly recommend that the college continue to promote tablet computing. I would also see advantages to the use of tablet computers both by faculty and on an individual basis by students.  I would recommend that the initiative be expanded in scope to include more devices and operating systems in addition to the iPad and further policy direction given to the question of costs.

-David A. Michelson is assistant professor of history. His research focuses on the development of Christianity in the Middle East during the last centuries of the Roman Empire. In addition to ancient history, Dr. Michelson teaches courses on the new research methods of the digital humanities. His current digital research project ( is an online reference work for the study of minority cultures in the Middle East.

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