Going Paperless

Winter 2011

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“This has become known as the ‘iPad class,’ said Management Professor Corey Angst. “It’s actually not. It’s Project Management.”

But a classroom full of 40 students tapping away on their new iPads definitely made the seven-week module newsworthy. Angst’s class served as a University pilot project to test the use of e-readers as part of a paperless classroom, where the wireless tablet computers replace traditional textbooks, written tests and handwritten notes.

Angst and other members of the Notre Dame ePublishing Working Group, which consists of a broad array of colleges and departments, were interested in studying how well the e-reader serves classroom needs. The broader goal of the pilot is to design an “e-publishing ecosystem” at the University that would make creation and distribution of e-materials simple and inexpensive for faculty, staff and students.

Angst, who conducts research on the transformational effect of information technology, recorded observations about iPad use—what worked well, the shortcomings, student comments—on his “Teaching with Angst” blog (teaching-with-angst.blogspot.com/). He plans to write a paper about his findings based on student surveys and focus groups. He says the overall initial feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We learned a lot from the study and didn’t encounter any major barriers, or minor ones for that matter,” said Angst. “The e-textbook reader and freehand note-taking for the iPad still aren’t where they need to be, but the students found lots of value-added benefits, such as the convenience, having information at their fingertips and always feeling connected.”

The iPads—which were on loan from the University—will now be used for similar studies with a number of groups on campus, including MBA and First Year of Studies students.