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WSC Has an App for That

 

If students’ backpacks in Dr. Sharon Garvin’s Accounting II class look a little light this semester, there’s a good explanation. These students have traded in heavy textbooks, laptops, ledger sheets, calculators and the like for the lightweight convenience of the Apple iPad 2.

 

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Everything the 14 students need for Garvin’s class can be contained in a package smaller than the magazine you’re reading, and not much thicker.

 

The idea for transitioning to an iPad based course was the brainchild of the School of Business and Technology Dean Dr. Vaughn Benson.

 

“Everything in accounting is affected by technology,” Garvin said. “It’s good to give students the opportunity to explore new technology right away.”

 

Students are provided with an iPad at the beginning of the semester. For all of the students in Garvin’s spring semester class, it was the first time they had the opportunity to use an iPad. Now, some are considering purchasing one after the semester is over and they are required to return their borrowed device.

 

Rather than reading from a thick textbook, students read an interactive ebook on their iPad. They can highlight sections and make notes in the margins just like in a printed book, but they can also ask Garvin a question directly from their device.

 

Cale Albracht, a freshman from Columbus, Neb., said he loves the portability the iPad provides him.

 

“I can read the textbook whenever I have my iPad, wherever I am,” Albracht said. “Having the iPad allows me to always be connected and have the opportunity to study.”

 

The iPads are loaded with study tools such as interactive exercises, recorded lectures, vocabulary words and flashcards. Downloaded apps allow students to complete spreadsheet assignment and take notes. Students complete homework on the iPad, receiving instant feedback and the ability to send their work directly to Garvin.

 

“It’s instant gratification,” she said. “Before, if they didn’t understand a concept, they might show up to class with only half of their assignment done. The iPad provides them a way to see if they understand the assignment and point them to the explanation in the book if they don’t.”

 

It’s a feature Katie Jacobsen, a freshman from Laurel, Neb., said she appreciates.

 

“Our homework gives us instant feedback and lets us know what we got correct right away instead of waiting for a week,” she said.

 

Students who may struggle with one concept have everything at their fingertips to overcome any learning barriers, while students who have mastered the concept can move ahead.

 

Thanks to the iPad’s instant gratification and portability, Garvin said she feels it’s helping her students retain more information and better understand the curriculum. It is also helping them prepare for a career after graduation.

 

“Instead of teaching simply bookkeeping, this allows me to teach some higher level skills,” she noted. “We are teaching students how to explain the numbers, how to forecast and how to make business decisions using accounting information. We are teaching them how they can use numbers to make a company more competitive.”

 

It’s a skill students will need in the workplace, she added, thanks to the rapidly changing accounting field.

 

“Accounting has changed so much,” she said. “The jobs we used to have required people.       Technology has changed all that. Companies need people that understand numbers and can explain what they mean.”

 

“We are preparing them for job security,” she said.

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