Wharton’s Executive MBA Program was recently selected as an Apple Distinguished Program for its innovative use of iPads. Wharton CIO Dan Alig talks about this honor and explains how the iPad project began.
There are thousands of iPad pilot projects in schools across the country and we are honored to receive be recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program. Apple recognized our program based on five criteria: visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success, and a flexible learning environment. It’s exciting to be selected for having one of the more successful and innovative pilots using Apple technology.
Our iPad project began with the vision of literally lightening EMBA students’ loads. We were spending inordinate amounts of money and resources distributing paper materials to students that could be provided digitally on an iPad. And students, who commute to our EMBA programs in Philadelphia and San Francisco from around the world, were lugging those materials to campus every other weekend. So starting with the incoming class in 2011, every EMBA student began to receive an iPad.
As students matriculate in the late spring when new iPads are often released, we work with Apple to ensure that our students have the most up-to-date versions possible. Wharton was probably among the first major orderers of the iPad IIs when we ordered them for the class of 2012 and the incoming class of 2013.
Since the beginning, the thrust of our project has been around course materials. We work closely with Study.Net, our course pack provider, to facilitate better experiences with course materials. We also work with publishers and course book distributors to find the best options for students. Currently, we use Inkling, which makes the textbook experience more interactive, and the Amazon Kindle platform.
EMBA students also use the devices to take notes in class, often bringing along accessories, such as keyboards. And they are great communications devices with Facetime and Skype, especially for students located outside of Philadelphia and San Francisco who need to remotely connect with each other.
So far, the response from students has been very positive. They appreciate that we’re working to make their experience better with technology. Of course, it’s a young platform and we are still ironing out some wrinkles. But having a lighter and more potable interface has been very beneficial.