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This is Your Brain on iPads  

Dr. Gwyneth Beagley, Professor of Psychology, Alma College
Andrew Bare, Assistant Director of Instructional Technology, Alma College

Introduction!

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In   the   fall   of   2012,   an   ini0a0ve   was   developed   between   the  
faculty  educa0onal  technology  commi<ee  and  the  IT  office  to  
be<er  support  innova0on  in  technology  use  by  our  faculty.  The  
college  wanted  to  support  faculty  that  had  great  ideas,  but  had  
been  limited  due  to  their  department  budgets.    

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Four   proposals   were   received   in   total.     Three   of   the   four  
proposals   involved   iPads   in   the   classroom.     Three   proposals  
were   fully   funded   and   one   proposal   was   par0ally   funded.   Of  
these  proposals  the  proposal  from  our  Psychology  department  
was  rated  the  strongest  according  to  our  rubric  which  rated  on  
the   areas   of   Proposal   Presenta0on,   Goals   and   Outcomes,  
Instruc0onal   Quality,   Faculty   Effec0veness,   Impact,   and  
Sustainability.  
The   Psychology   Proposal   was   submi<ed   by   Dr.   Gwyneth  
Beagley   who   had   been   teaching   the   Physiological   Psychology  
(PSY  201)  course  for  29  years.  She  was  interested  in  exploring  
the   effect   on   teaching   and   learning   by   replacing   a   textbook  
with  an  iPad.  

Psychology Proposal!
Replace  textbook  with  an  iPad  
Use  free  or  inexpensive  apps  to  learn  the  basics  of  the  brain  
Use  websites  and  original  journal  ar0cles  
Use   iPads   for   receiving,   nota0ng,   and   reading   online  
scien0fic  ar0cles  
•  Use   the   iPad   camera   for   lab   sec0ons,   allowing   students   to  
revisit  labs  to  review  them  
•  Access  websites  during  discussions  
•  Reduce  paper  usage  
• 
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2010  
2011  

What   developed   was   named   AETII   –   the   Andison   Educa0onal  
Technology   Innova0on   Ini0a0ve.     In   January   of   2013,   the   call  
for   proposals   was   sent   to   our   faculty.     Faculty   were   told   that  
the   ideal   proposals   should   be   innova0ve,   scalable,   adaptable,  
and  applicable  to  learning.  If  the  pilot  was  successful,  others  at  
the   college   in   various   departments   should   be   able   to   repeat  
that   formula   for   success   in   their   own   areas.     The   college   did  
not  name  any  specific  funding  limit  to  avoid  ideas  being  limited  
by   or   aimed   at   a   specific   budget.     We   knew   from   discussions  
with   our   Provost   that   our   overall   budget   for   this   program  
would   be   around   $20,000,   but   we   did   not   share   that  
informa0on  with  faculty.  

2012  

85  

2013  (iPads)  
2014  (iPads)  

80  

75  

70  
Quiz  1  

Quiz  2  

Lab  Report  

Figure 2. This graph represents the scores for the early quizzes in the course as well as the lab report. 2013 and 2014 were
the course sections that replaced textbooks with iPads.!
Figure 1. The 3D Brain application in use!

Process!

Results!

Conclusion!

PSY   201   enrolled   18   students   during   the   2013   sec0on   and   19  
during   the   2014   sec0on.   All   of   the   students   were   given   an   iPad  
on   the   first   day   of   class   aber   signing   an   agreement   to   take  
responsibility  for  it.  For  the  first  0me  Physiological  Psychology  
did   not   use   a   textbook.   The   students   kept   the   iPad   for   the  
dura0on   of   the   semester.   Students   used   their   iPads   to   take  
photos  and  videos,  take  notes,  read  ar0cles  and  research,  and  
use   free   or   inexpensive   apps   designed   to   help   them   learn  
about  the  brain.  

The   scores   in   the   course   sec0on   using   the   iPads   showed  
drama0c   improvement   from   previous   years   on   both   early  
quizzes   that   dealt   with   the   basics   of   the   brain   and   the   lab  
report.   Later   quizzes   and   tests   in   the   course   showed   less  
drama0c   increases,   but   the   iPad   group   s0ll   either  
outperformed   or   matched   previous   sec0ons   in   all   quizzes   and  
assignments   for   the   course   during   both   years   of   iPad   use.   On  
the   student   course   evalua0ons   the   students   voiced   nearly  
unanimous  apprecia0on  for  the  use  of  the  iPad  in  the  course.  
 
Students   found   conceptualizing   the   basics   of   the   brain   to   be   an  
easier   task   with   an   app   like   3D   brain   than   it   was   with   a  
textbook.     Students   using   the   camera   on   their   iPads   to   video  
record  and  review  labs  led  to  an  improved  lab  report.  
 
Dr.   Beagley   found   that   trading   a   textbook   for   an   iPad   was   a  
good   approach   for   a   class   where   an   instructor   was   very  
comfortable   with   the   material.   She   also   found   that   the   iPad  
was  of  par0cular  importance  to  students  who  iden0fy  as  visual  
learners.  Student  evalua0ons  rated  Dr.  Beagley  as  being  “more  
organized”   when   working   with   the   iPads   than   in   previous  
semesters.  
 
 

Replacing   a   tradi0onal   textbook   with   a   more   visual   and  
interac0ve   tool   (and   materials)   resulted   in   a   be<er  
understanding  of  core  concepts  for  the  students  and  increased  
quiz   and   lab   scores.     Students   enjoyed   learning   the   material  
more   when   using   the   iPads   and   the   interac0ve   applica0ons.  
Although   replacing   a   $100   textbook   with   a   $500   iPad   is   not  
cost  neutral,  if  that  same  iPad  (or  other  tablet)  could  be  used  
in   more   classes   –   cost   neutrality   could   poten0ally   be   achieved.    
There   was   a   drama0c   drop   in   paper   usage   by   both   the  
instructor  and  the  students  in  the  course.  
 
The   main   goal   moving   forward   is   to   con0nue   working   to   find   a  
sustainable   model   to   expand   tablet   access   for   any   classes   at  
Alma  College  that  would  like  to  use  them.    If  more  faculty  are  
interested   in   following   this   model   of   cu^ng   out   physical  
textbooks   and   instead   using   iPads   with   free   or   inexpensive  
apps  and  digital  materials  –  we  may  be  able  to  develop  a  rental  
model   through   our   bookstore   to   keep   costs   down.  
Sustainability   and   scalability   were   two   key   components   for  
AETII   proposals   and   the   results   from   this   pilot   proved  
promising  to  both.  

Applications!
•  Apple’s  Pages  and  Numbers  were  used  to  write  and  submit  
lab  reports  electronically  as  well  as  create  graphs.      
•  Cogni/ve   Consilience   was   used   to   show   them   neural  
connec0ons.      
•  Ned  The  Neuron  was  a  useful  app  to  help  them  learn  early  
concepts  in  the  course.  
•   Notability  was  used  to  notate  scien0fic  ar0cles.    
•  The  Camera  app  was  used  for  photos  and  video.  
•  3D  Brain  was  used  to  view  and  label  parts  of  the  brain  in  an  
interac0ve  way.