Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group iPad workshop

I was recently fortunate enough to attend a day workshop with the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG). The workshop explored the growing use of iPads in higher education teaching and looked at the use of particular apps, how apps and iPads are supporting particular areas of learning and student use and perception of smart devices.

Prior to providing a few notes from various sessions on the day, I would like to share a few wise words from Andrew Middleton, Head of Innovation at Sheffield Hallam University and the Chair of MELSIG, who suggested that ‘if you are looking at how iPads can enhance your current learning provision, then you are just going to give yourself more work. What you need to do is consider how iPads can revolutionise your teaching for the better.’

iPads enhancing fieldwork
Presented by Brian Whalley (Queens University Belfast) and Vicky Powell (University of Chester)

For information about their Enhancing Fieldwork Learning Project, click here).

Some interesting ideas and points that came from their session:

  • The livescribe pen and smart book (see a ‘how it works’ video here) allows you to write normal notes with a special pen in a special notebook, which transmits the notes to your smart device for later. Your ‘notes’ can be enhanced with audio files.
  • iPads allow you to keep all your fieldwork photos, notes, videos and audio files in one file by using an app such as Evernote.
  • Skitch app allows you to take a photo and annotate the photo in the field.
  • Splice is an app that allows you to edit videos in the field.
  • Polldaddy is an app that allows you to create a poll and use it in the field.
  • Maps can be downloaded onto an iPad in advance for use in the field.
  • Textbooks can be taken into the field on an iPad.
  • GeoID app maps your location as you go, which is good for information and safety in the field.
  • Proscope (see: ) is a wireless microscope for use with iPads in the field.
  • Solar panels (for example, the KudoCase) are available for iPads for remote fieldwork.

Innovative use of apps in the SHU Health Faculty
Presented by Robin Gissing of Sheffield Hallam University

They are using an app called Aurasma to create virtual realities to enhance the learning for nursing students. Nursing students are quite often faced with a mannequin on which to practise skills and their bedside manner. However, at Sheffield Hallam, as the nursing student approaches the mannequin, the iPad starts a video case study that depicts a real ‘patient’ in place of the mannequin. This adds a more personal dimension to the nursing student’s learning.

Accessibility issues are sometimes able to be addressed using transcripts. The Dragon Dictate app is able to convert audio into a text file.

The Coach’s Eye app enables those teaching PE or other sports to video ‘play’ and then play it back to give immediate feedback and annotations to the students. Feedback can be recorded so that students can have this as a take-home resource. This could also have application in assessing consultation skills for healthcare professionals.

Killer apps
This session involved us working in groups to identify the most useful apps to promote collaboration, communication and sharing.

Collaborating apps:

  • Eclicker for feedback on presentations, etc
  • Notability for taking and sharing notes
  • Dropbox for sharing files on a collaborative project
  • Mighty Meeting app allows students to talk to each other and record meetings so they can be emailed
  • Diigo is a social bookmarking app
  • is a social bookmarking app
  • Socrative is a great app to use in place of clickers

Communication apps:

  • Pinterest
  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Turnitin for giving students feedback
  • Skype for videoconferencing on a one-to-one basis
  • Skype Pro allows group conferencing for up to six people
  • Face Time for videoconferencing
  • Fuze Meeting allows videoconferencing and online presentation and seminars
  • Cisco WebEx allows videoconferencing and desktop sharing
  • Voice Thread is a discussion thread app
  • Explain Everything app allows you to put a voiceover on a PowerPoint on a slide-by-slide basis.


  • Google apps
  • Evernote
  • Dropbox for sharing files on a collaborative project
  • Diigo is a social bookmarking app
  • is a social bookmarking app

Post PC students
This session involved a handful of students who are using their own devices at university giving us some insight into what they are using and why.

Helpful apps included:

  • Evernote – note taking
  • iStudiez – at the start of the term you can input your course details, lecture times, assessment due dates, etc and it all syncs into one calendar. It will also draw from your calendar app on your device.
  • Final Countdown – counts down how long until assessment work is due.
  • Wiki Web app – provides Wikipedia information but also demonstrates the web of linked information relating to the search.
  • BlackBoard app – access course information.

Interestingly, the discussion from this group indicated that they would rather bring their own device than be given a prescriptive device by their university.

I hope that these notes will be of use to you. I welcome any comments or suggestions in relation to them. You might also be interested to know that MELSIG is planning further iPad workshops around the country this year.

About Cathy Thomas-Varcoe

I have a passion for distance learning and the opportunities it provides for lifelong learning. I have spent the past 11 years focussing on delivering quality distance learning. Drawing on my nursing background, I initially worked for the Royal College of Nursing Institute who ran undergraduate and postgraduate distance learning programmes validated by the University of Manchester and then for The Open University Health and Social Care Faculty. More recently I was a learning solutions consultant for The Open University’s Centre for Learning and Professional Development. In January 2012 I was appointed as the Distance Learning Lead for the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester. I have been involved in courses from concept to delivery, but the bulk of my work has focussed on writing and conceptualising distance learning courses.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s