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iPad Initiative

AU School of Architecture Ipad Initiative

In the Fall of 2015, the Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning approved an application by Visiting Assistant Professor Danielle Willkens for a portion of the second-year architecture studio, ARCH 2010, to participate in the University-wide iPad initiative, a pilot program testing the integration of active learning strategies and technology in the classroom. With additional support from APLA, each of the students within three of the five studios of the second-year architecture cohort were provided with iPad Airs, and the newly remodeled eastern studio bay on the third floor of Dudley Hall was outfitted with three flat screen TVs to serve as large, communal monitors for AppleTV AirPlay and ScreenBeam for Android and Windows streaming. 

Although often seen as devices purely for entertainment and ease of communication through e-mail and messaging, many of the students used the iPad as productive tools for information management, research, and creative development. With certain apps, the iPads were easily transformed into portable second screens for their laptops. Some students also found design development success by using the iPad by taking photographs of physical models then using a stylus and apps such as Sketchbook to draw over the images and think through issues related to construction, form, sequence, and light. Some students established free Adobe Creative Cloud licenses to use vector-based programs like Line. A brief assignment that actualized quite beneficial applications of the iPads, and pointed to a different, potentially more effective use of iPads for design students, was done in the library. It was very useful to have the library catalog and databases on the portable devices; students were able to navigate the stacks with a clear screen on hand, take notes on journal articles, and capture images quickly in order to translate their research into organized presentations with CamScanner. These presentations were then directly streamed to the large screens in studio and facilitated discussions about façades and material applications.

As a semester-long initiative, it was not cost-effective to invest in certain apps and, unfortunately, many of the free apps for drawing and note taking (e.g. Notability and Upad) have relegated their most useful features and option to in-app purchases. Several of the key apps tested in the iPad studio initiative pilot program are featured in the adjacent iPad screenshots in hopes that readers of StudioAPLA can download and explore these interesting programs independently.