Director for Academic Computer Technologies for the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology Richard J. Pierce, Ed.D., and Don Silvius, with iM Learning Support, conducted a study in fall 2016 to determine the impact of the university’s decision to distribute the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro 9.7, which the university began in the summer of that year. While Shenandoah has long distributed iPads to students, the Apple Pencil distribution was new.
The combination of the two technologies made an impact, according to Dr. Pierce and Silvius’ paper, “iPad Pro 9.7 + Apple Pencil: A Case Study of User Engagement.”
The paper concludes, “The iPad Pro 9.7+ Apple Pencil distribution in the fall of 2016 demonstrated significantly higher end-user engagement than did previous models of iPad throughout the fall of 2016. Consistently higher use of the iPad Pro 9.7 + Apple Pencil was also evidenced throughout the semester, compared to previous semesters. Engagement with the iPad Pro 9.7 + Apple Pencil in academic settings was promoted in settings in which the faculty members had identified an authentic workflow that leveraged combinations of ubiquitous cloud-based apps such as Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, among others. The four faculty members who applied for the teaching innovation grants [to use the Pencil/iPad combination] were required to identify potential pedagogic affordances of the new technologies prior to the start of the semester in order to have the technology. The innovation grant promoted the development of unique and authentic pedagogical uses of iPad Pro 9.7 + Apple Pencil in the first semester of adoption.”
Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Director of Math Enrichment Amanda Sutherland, Ph.D., was one of the faculty members who received a grant to use both the iPad and Apple Pencil. Her continued goal in her classes is to integrate the technological resources students use, such as the university-issued iPads, Apple Pencils and MacBook Pros, all provided through the iM Learning program. “They do a lot of group work,” she said, and in fall 2016, much of which occurred as students watched her perform work using the Apple Pencil on her iPad, which was then displayed on a screen at the front of the class. The Pencil/iPad combination and the use of the Notability app allowed students to download copies of her notes, practice problems, make their own handwritten notes, and then access notes she made during the course of class. Students could also hand write answers to problems with the Apple Pencil and quickly upload them to Google Drive to receive quick comments from Dr. Sutherland.
The iPad/Pencil combination also afforded her greater mobility in class, allowing her to continue to make notes while also walking around the room to check on different groups’ progress. The Apple Pencil writes easily – as naturally as with a pencil or dry-erase marker – far better than a generic stylus, Sutherland said.
Pierce also noted that encouraging faculty use of iPads and the Apple Pencil is a great topic for planned professional development. “Teaching with apps, creating multi-touch books, [and] developing iTunes U courses are possible entrees into expanded faculty use,” he added.
He also noted “further research projects are underway to assess the future engagement of iPadPro + Pencil vs previous distributions (and previous iPad models), and to assess the impact of teaching with the iPad Pro + Pencil on student satisfaction.”