After months (okay, maybe weeks) of planning, I’m excited to announce the introduction of the College of the Liberal Arts iPad Summer Research Project (CLAISRP? Perhaps this is an initiative that is better left without an acronym.)
In this summer research project, we are exploring the use of the iPad, whether first or second generation, as tool for academic research and other scholarly work by faculty. To accomplish this, we are working in partnership with Education Technology Services, which has graciously loaned us the use of seven first generation iPads for this project. Other faculty members are participating by using their own previously purchased iPads, and still others have been given permission to apply research funds toward the purchase of one, which is ordinarily not permitted.
Examples of activities for which we anticipate faculty will use the iPad include interfacing with the library, reading and annotating PDFs, reference and bibliography management, file management, statistical analysis and content creation. We are interested in the thoughts and experiences of these faculty as they manage their normal scholarly workflow and what affordances, or perhaps hindrances, the iPad offers. In addition to the reactions to the functionality of the tool itself, in order to evaluate the efficiencies of iPad applications, participants will be given an iTunes gift card, which is designated to use for the purchase of paid apps that we will want to have explored.
Participating Liberal Arts faculty include:
- David Atwill (History)
- Christian Brady (Classics and Mediterranean Studies, Dean of Schreyer Honors College)
- Amy Dietz (Labor Studies and Employment Relations)
- Mark Fisher (Philosophy)
- Debbie Hawhee (English)
- Suzanna Linn (Political Science)
- Chris Long (Philosophy and Classics, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education)
- Xiaofei Lu (Applied Linguistics)
- Dirk Mateer (Economics)
- Heather McCoy (French)
- Karen Peters (Communication Arts and Sciences)
- Veena Raman (Communication Arts and Sciences)
- Sam Richards (Sociology)
- Erich Schienke (Science, Technology and Society)
- Stuart Selber (English)
- Daniel Tripp (English)
- Kirt Wilson (Communication Arts and Sciences)
To capture the reflections of the participants in this project, we will make everyone a co-author of this blog, and ask them to post here throughout the experience. There is no minimum or maximum number or length of posts, but we anticipate that the faculty will provide frequent, substantive contributions throughout so we can gain a thorough understanding of this innovation for its use in scholarly work. We have also created Facebook and Liberal Arts Research Diigo presences for the participants in order to have channels through which to share relevant news items.
How will we measure the success of this initiative? Some will come through qualitative feedback, and some quantitative. We will survey the group after the completion of this project, currently slated for the conclusion of the fall semester, to evaluate the level of satisfaction with the tool for the purpose of academic research. We will measure the kinds of activities for which the iPad was used, by asking the participants to tag their blog posts with the activity so we can create a tag cloud and determine what the most popular activities were. We will also ask for a summary of any scholarly articles, book chapters or manuscripts that were written or submitted, dissertations reviewed, etc., that involved the use of the iPad. The ultimate goal of this project is to create a culture of community in which the affordances and limitations of digital media technology are investigated in ways that lend themselves to the creation of excellent new scholarship.
We plan to convene this group (or as many as we can due the fact that we are now in summer session) on Monday, May 23 to set the charge and discuss logistics, as well as gather informally over the summer to share our experiences to date. Once the fall semester convenes, we will meet as a group once again to discuss our progress and set the course for the completion of the research by the end of the fall semester.
The commitment to innovation in the College is exciting and inspirational. I think it is a testament to the College that we are undertaking this initiative and to our faculty that such a broad assortment–15 faculty members representing 10 different departments– has agreed to participate. I am also very thankful that ETS is collaborating with us on this initiative. I am looking forward to this project, and am eager to learn what the results will tell us.
– John Dolan