First-year students Zak Miko (left) and Hannah Vander Meer are excited to use iPad technology instead of textbooks in Vancouver Island University’s Forest Resources Technology program.

September 9, 2014 - 4:00pm

Goodbye textbooks, hello iPads.

First-year Forestry students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo, BC are using iPads instead of textbooks as the department goes paperless.

“We’re embarking on an exciting new approach to learning,” says Doug Corrin, instructor in Forest Resources Technology program, who launched the initiative with colleague Bill Beese. “We’re going digital with all of our course content and forestry textbooks.”

Students will use newly purchased iPads for field navigation, electronic data collection, consulting references and note taking. They will use it as a camera, as a digital library at their fingertips and as a way to interact and collaborate with students and instructors.

“The iPad tablet will replace $900 in book and supply costs per student and prepare them for use of current technology in the forest industry,” adds Beese. 

“We’re really excited about this initiative. Doug and I notice that our industry partners in forestry already use iPads in an effective way. Our goal as instructors is to remain current and adaptable. This is a perfect opportunity to use changing technology in the field and in classrooms to enhance student learning.”

Beese and Corrin began experimenting with iPad technology last year. “If you’re not a little bit uncomfortable with something, you’re not learning,” says Beese. “We tested the idea with a few students and it was great. One student thanked us for keeping abreast of new technology and for pushing the envelop in our classroom teaching.”

Sabin Ignat of VIU’s IT department adds, “We had to replace a giant Elk head at the front of the Forestry classroom in Building 370 with a new remote controlled smart projector. We also created a whiteboard out of an existing blackboard to use with projector and iPad technology.”

“It may sound Star-Trekish but, we’ll link our iPads to the projector,” explains Corrin. “As a class, we can brainstorm ideas, and draw diagrams which we can save as an image and post to our classroom website. Students can take over the screen using their iPads and add to the conversation during class discussions.”

Beese and Corrin enjoy trying and learning about new technology. They were among the early pioneers of VIULearn, the University’s new learning management system two years ago. As faculty members, they benefit from support through VIU’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning.

“The Centre is a tremendous resource,” says Corrin. “They’ve guided us and met with us regularly throughout the year to implement the iPad project. Everything we’re doing is based on research that enhances student learning. This project is rejuvenating the way we teach.”

The Centre will conduct ongoing research throughout the semester to monitor the impact and success of using iPad technology to enhance student learning.

Two weeks into the semester, the change is getting thumbs up from students. “I’m really happy about it,” says student Hannah Vander Meer. “I’ve been working for a silviculture company for five years and most foresters in the field are using iPads.”

“There are many benefits to using iPads in both indoor and outdoor classrooms,” adds student Zak Miko. “It’s really convenient.” 



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6288   E: T: @viunews

Tags: Teaching and Learning

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