Seton Hill University has been named an Apple Distinguished Program for its success in enhancing and extending teaching and learning with thoughtful and innovative implementations of technology. The Apple Distinguished Program designation is reserved for programs that are recognized centers of educational excellence and leadership.

“We held a belief that mobile technology would become one of the most powerful tools of our time with which to teach and to learn, and as we took the giant step we were not at all certain how that leap would impact teaching and learning,” said JoAnne Boyle, president. “Today, in the classroom students and teachers found the Socratic Method enhanced by instant access to information. Teachers became co-explores with students, learning how to use these tools to share and create new ideas.”

“Faculty have determined that students are more highly engaged,” said Phil Komarny, vice president for Information Technology. “The use of the iPad and applications we have implemented have resulted in more active participation and more meaningful discussion around issues. We have seen a significant increase in contact between faculty and students as a result of the new channels available for communication.”

One example of the creative application of mobile technology is the digital magazine Demetra Czegan, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, uses in her Chemistry Quantitative Analysis Lab. Czegan partnered with Quinto Martin of Seton Hill’s Center for Innovative Teaching to create an interactive digital magazine that provides every resource to the students. The magazine, when opened on the iPad, appears as a notebook with penciled notes and diagrams, photos, videos and reference material. It operates just like an app and new content added by Czegan can be accessed any time with a simple app update. “As the magazine began to develop, I discovered new uses for it,” said Czegan. “Students used to have to carry so much to the lab. Now they can just bring their lab notebook and their iPad.”

Seton Hill’s mobile learning program maintains the following objectives: creating a teaching and learning environment that goes beyond the confines of a traditional classroom; encouraging widespread use of mobile technology for instantaneous access to information; deepening critical and creative thinking through teaching strategies; increasing student engagement in learning; decreasing costs for students through the use of e-texts.

At Seton Hill, early assessment activities have garnered interesting statistics: 66 percent of faculty use the iPad in classroom instruction once a week or in every class; 61 percent of students use the iPad to achieve course learning objectives at least once a week, if not in every session; 52 percent of students believe the iPad has had a positive effect on communication with faculty.

For the 2011-2012 academic year, the mobile learning program provided all incoming first-year full-time students with an iPad2 and a 13" MacBook Pro, along with the technical support and robust, wireless infrastructure to support their use anywhere on Seton Hill's hilltop campus, downtown Greensburg campus and in the University's new Center for Orthodontics on State Route 30.

Each faculty member has been provided with an iPad, and many already use the MacBook they received while taking part in a progressive Seton Hill program that trains faculty in the use of advanced technologies inside and outside of the classroom. In 2010-11, Seton Hill presented an iPad to every full-time existing undergraduate, graduate and Adult Degree Program student.