BIOL 313 General Ecology Laboratory - Mundahl

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About This Article

This article describes how mobile computing, specifically tablets, was piloted in Prof. Neal Mundahl's BIOL 313 General Ecology Laboratory to transform teaching and learning.

Intended Audience

WSU instructors interested in past faculty experience with tablet devices in the classroom.

Fall 2013 iPad Pilot

Students in this course had access to an iPad tablet to use throughout the fall semester along with several apps selected by Dr. Mundahl for use in class and in the field.

How the iPads are Used in BIOL 320

There are several substantial challenges for science students in any lab class. These challenges include:

  • organized collection of data,
  • easy sharing of data with lab mates, and
  • receiving data and worksheets from the instructor.

The students in Dr. Mundahl's BIOL 313 used iPads as a vehicle for collecting, organizing, and sharing data with the instructor and fellow students in the class. Professor Mundahl distributed electronic worksheets to the students that were completed and shared through the iPads.

Dr. Mundahl's objectives included:

  • Organized data collection. Rather than having to keep track of a set of loose worksheets for the length of the term, data were collected and recorded on electronic forms and stored on the iPad or in the Cloud. Worksheets were designed in Numbers and fill-in-the-blank responses were added as data were available.
  • Increased sharing of data between students and faculty. Because the data were saved on electronic worksheets, sharing through email was possible. Rather than having to find a copier to make copies for fellow students, the spreadsheet would be attached to an email and immediately shared.

Outcomes

Changes in the classroom

  • From paper worksheets to electronic spreadsheets. No more making copies, carrying to class, and distributing to the students. All forms are created in Numbers and sent by email to the students.
  • From loose sheets of paper to electronic storage of data. Instead of filing all of the worksheets for future studying, forms are completed on the iPad and saving or stored in the Cloud. While no one is forced into creating a complicated folder structure to organize their notes, having them all saved in the same electronic storage will simplify retrieval later.

It should be noted here that there were some issues with the distribution of the Numbers application to the students in the pilot. These issues resulted in a small number of the students having Numbers while the remainder of the class went without. The students that did receive Numbers enjoyed the data-collection process and frequently volunteered to collect data for the entire class and share it out through email.

Recommendations

  • Distribute applications to all students. Collecting and sharing data is a much more engaging process when all students are interactively involved.
  • Look into ways to defeat the weather. Both bright sunshine and cold temperatures made the iPads occasionally challenging. Bright sunlight made reading and data entry difficult because of the glare. Cold temperatures impacted data entry because of cold fingers, gloves, and colder-than-recommended devices.

iPad Applications Employed in BIOL 313

Professor Mundahl used the following applications in his BIOL 313 iPad pilot:

  • Numbers

Descriptions, pricing, and links to iTunes for each of these applications is available on the iPad Pilot Applications page.

More Information

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