A Lambton College mobile learning initiative that encourages students to use Apple iPads in their courses has been recognized by the tablet maker as an Apple Distinguished Program.
College officials celebrated the designation Wednesday with speeches and cake.
“Honestly, we have come a long way, baby,” college president Judith Morris told staff.
“There aren’t many colleges willing to take the risk we’ve taken,” she said.
Lambton is the first college in Ontario to receive the designation from Apple, said Rick Overeem, a dean at the college.
“This is no small feat,” he told the crowd.
The college said in a press release the designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence.
“As the only college in Ontario with this designation, I think it clearly identifies us as a leader,” Morris said.
Donna Church, Lambton’s academic vice-president, said the college’s move to mobile learning began more than two years ago when it saw how tablets were being used in other educational institutions, including local high schools and elementary schools.
At the same time, a survey of students at the college found more were already using more than one digital device.
“We said, ‘My goodness, the landscape is changing,’” Church said.
Seeing how digital devices were being used in industry and business, as well as how students valued online access in their education, Lambton made a push for mobile learning part of its 2012 strategic plan.
Church said the college went looking for a blue print for mobile learning, but couldn’t find one at the time.
“We’ve created our own blue print,” she said.
Students at Lambton provide their own digital device for the mobile learning initiative that encourages them to use iPads to access eTexts, software, apps and other resources.
The college’s system isn’t iPad exclusive, so students can use other brands of digital devices, Church said.
By September, all full-time programs at the college will be mobile.
“It’s bold, it’s ambitious and it’s the right thing to do for our learners,” Church said.
Morris said the move to mobile learning has been a “multi-million” dollar investment for the college.
“A lot of the investment is technology,” she said.
“We would have to have done a lot of it, anyway.”
With students often bringing more than one digital device with them, Lambton has had to upgrade its wireless network and other technology.
It has also provided staff with support and training, appointed mobile teaching and learning coaches, and hired a full-time “mobilist” to support mobile technology for students and staff.
The college also developed a Textbooks for All pilot that builds the cost of electronic textbooks into tuition.