The JISC PLACES project


We have just completed our JISC-funded PLACES project, which focused on evaluating the use of iPads in a Masters course offered by Criminology.  Ming Nie and Terese Bird worked on this, along with Nichola Hayes from our Academic Practice team and Adrian Beck, head of Criminology. They have produced a detailed case study and a video. Criminology realised that their new MSc in Security, Conflict and International Development (SCID) would require a high degree of flexibility in the way in which course materials could be accessed – carrying large amounts of printed material or having 24/7 access to the Internet would not always be possible for these prospective learners. So they decided to issue all students with iPads as part of the registration process. This enabled students to have access to all their course materials on the device. Feedback was elicited from students vai an online survey. The results indicated that the iPad improved the experience of the distance learners involved in the pilot in the following ways:

  • 92% stated it was useful or very useful
  • 100% stated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their iPad
  • 50% used the iPad every day
  • Students valued the portability and flexibility of the iPad
  • The iPad had the advantage of accessing, storing, managing, and editing (such as making notes, highlighting) the majority of the materials students need for their study on one single device
  • The ability to access course materials without an Internet connection is also considered essential for many students

So overall the evaluation was very positive indeed. Of course, as with any innovation, there were challenges; in particular issues to do with copyright, implementing a new technology into the existing IT services and finding the right kind of business model for this kind of approach.

A key outcome from the project is that it has paved the way for other departments to explore the use of tablet devices. Education are using iBooks Author to create resources and Medicine are thinking of giving all first year students iPads. So iPads and other table devices are clearly here to stay and I predict that more and more courses will move to using them in the near future.