Saturday, October 20, 2012

Implementing iPads and Notability in Science Class

By Sean Scarpiello

Earlier this week, my classmates and I were sitting in our organic chemistry lab when our professor entered the lab with a large cardboard box with the Apple logo on it. He then told us that our lab section was going to a part of an experimental project. Our small group out of the large class was given iPads to see if it is possible to succeed in a class as rigorous as an organic chemistry class using these devices. The purpose of the experiment was to see if it is possible to go completely paperless in an upper level class which typically requires a lot of paperwork. Organic chemistry is one of the few classes notoriously hated on campuses across the country for its tendency to ruin GPAs and its large workload. The material is largely visual so the idea of using an iPad which makes the information interactive can be a plus. But will this experiment with the iPads prove to be beneficial, or far from it?

Before we each received our iPads, we signed a waiver that stated if anything were to happen to our iPads, we were held responsible. It was at this point where reality set in. We were happy we would each have our own iPad, but what if these iPads are more trouble than they are worth? We are college kids which are always dropping, spilling, and breaking things. In addition, we will be using these in a lab full of dangerous chemicals and materials which could easily ruin the iPads. Most of all, we were wondering: we have enough work keeping up with the class on paper and now we have to adapt to using iPads for all of our assignments. How would we make this work?

When we each received our iPads, we discovered that they came in protective cases. The cases did not make the iPads indestructible, but they provided a bit of relief. Also, we were given styluses which we could use on the screens. These make it possible for us to have more precision when writing down notes and also keep the harmful chemicals on our gloves off of the screens. Next, we were instructed that templates for all of our assignments were available on the college’s website. This allowed us to all log on and download these templates to use during our lab experiments. Once downloaded, we had the ability to write notes onto the iPad which we could pull up as a PDF file later to email to our professor.

Each iPad had an application called Notability which was already pre-downloaded. Using this application, we were able to take pictures of the lab apparatuses and other results. We were then able to add these pictures to our final lab report. Another nice feature of this application was a dictation function. We are able to speak into the microphone and the application translates this into words on the spreadsheet. Each of these functions allows the lab reports and other assignments to be done more efficiently and quickly.

In all, when implementing iPads in a classroom setting, we found that we were originally apprehensive about the new technology. However, we discovered that we quickly adapted to the technology and now we can complete assignments with more details in an efficient manner. Using applications such as Notability, we were able to increase our clarity in assignment due to its extra functions.

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