UWS deploys iPads to support IT-enhanced learning

Students sitting on the ground under a tree using iPads 

UWS provides 11,000 iPads to students and staff in one of the largest, most innovative rollouts in an Australian university 

The long wait for those final year exam results and much-needed ATARs to get into university just got a little sweeter, with the University of Western Sydney announcing today that all new students who enrol to study at UWS in 2013 will receive an iPad to empower them in their learning. 

The University will distribute 11,000 iPads to every new student and all academic staff in 2013 to support learning and teaching innovations(opens in a new window) across the curriculum and in informal learning environments. 

This bold move - believed to be the largest rollout of its kind ever carried out in an Australian university -marks the start of the University's major longer-term strategy to engage students in new ways of learning and interacting with all that UWS has to offer across its campuses and online. 

"With digital technology revolutionising how we connect and interact with the world, university study should be no different," says Professor Kerri-Lee Krause, UWS Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education).

"This initiative will not only readily equip our students and academic staff with mobile tools to enhance learning, it will also help them to engage with an ever-increasing online world." 

Professor Krause says the iPad initiative is just one part of a comprehensive curriculum renewal strategy at UWS, which includes implementing more flexible study options for students and a blended learning model for all UWS degrees from 2013 and beyond. 

Under the banner of create@UWS, staff and students will work together to create new ways of engaging with knowledge within and across disciplines and in online, community and work-based settings.

"The create@UWS initiative extends what our UWS academic staff are already doing so well in their teaching through innovation and a strong emphasis on engagement," says Professor Krause.

"Over the next couple of years UWS will challenge some of the traditional lecture-style presentations by including more of the interactive learning that students value so much.

"Mobile technologies will be a key part of this strategy. We want to support our academic staff to make the most of iPads and custom-designed apps in class so that, even in the largest lecture theatre, students have access to just-for-me, just-in-time interactive learning experiences."  

Professor Krause says the iPad initiative is part of a suite of innovations that involve emerging technologies to engage students within and beyond the traditional classroom, as well as making the most of work-based and community-based learning to bring higher education to life.

She says UWS already has great examples of innovative teaching and learning in its Schools. 

"We are proud to be the home of two Prime Minister's Award winners for excellence in teaching. These academic staff and others will join our iChampions Network as we make the most of creative approaches to teaching, including through the use of mobile technologies," she says.

"Our students tell us they want more flexible ways to learn. They have paid work and family commitments, yet they value the support offered by a campus-based experience. To increase flexible access to 'learning on the go', our students will be able to learn using more online and web-streamed material while at the same time benefiting from 'flipped' approaches to traditional university teaching that emphasise interactive and collaborative face-to-face learning.

"We are also expanding the range of study modes, to include more intensive and weekend classes to give our students more flexibility and choice.

"The iPad initiative is just one part of our broader, four-year Blended Learning Strategy to embrace emerging technologies and other modes of learning as a way to complement our face-to-face teaching, which will of course remain core to UWS."

With six campuses geographically spread across the expansive region of Greater Western Sydney – each offering free wireless internet to students - the UWS iPad initiative also ensures that all new students can connect with the University via Wi-Fi at any time of day.

"The University's analytics also show that our e-learning system is accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week," says Professor Krause. 

"So, not only do we expect this initiative to be useful for students on campus as part of their university studies, but we expect it will also greatly enable our first-year students to engage with the University and their learning when and where they choose." 


20 December 2012

Photo: Sally Tsoutas

Media contact: Amanda Whibley, Manager, Media and Public Relations