Students in Science Lab

Provost Report to the Faculty for February 2012

At our last Faculty Meeting, President Bonner shared with the faculty his desire to see the University explore the feasibility of a mobile learning initiative for possible implementation in the 2013-14 academic year.

Such an initiative would likely entail the distribution of an iPad or similar device to all traditional undergraduates and to all full-time faculty who choose to participate. The goal would be to advance two broad educational aims:

(1) to provide a textbook alternative to students in light of the rapidly escalating cost of traditional textbooks, and

(2) to heighten student engagement with learning. Textbook alternative: Apple recently announced an agreement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson to provide educational titles for the iPad with most priced at $14.99 or less.

Apple has also released an application which will allow faculty to easily create textbooks for free using resources available on the internet. Student Engagement: There are already over 20,000 education and learning applications that have been built specifically for the iPad. Under a mobile learning initiative, faculty would receive support to identify and use iPad learning applications both in and out of class. Apple would also provide the University with support to help develop new apps in-house.

The University is working with Apple to arrange a time for a representative of their educational technology division to speak with faculty about ways in which a mobile learning initiative could promote learning at Gardner-Webb. Meanwhile, I have asked Dr. Bob Carey, Chair of the Dept. of Communication Studies, to lead a faculty taskforce to study the concept in greater detail. The electronic materials distributed for the February Faculty Meeting will include three documents connected with the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy. In 2010, the University requested a legal review of its current policy in light of possible changes in federal and state law. Last fall we received the results of that review along with numerous suggestions for changes. The resulting documents have been reviewed by the Office of Human Resources, the President’s senior staff and by the faculty’s Administrative Advisory Committee.

The Board of Trustees will review the proposed revisions at their regular winter meeting this Thursday (Feb. 23). Already we have received questions about possible additional changes to the policy, all of them minor, which are still pending review by the University’s attorney. The Board of Trustees will be asked on Thursday to approve the move to the new policy in principle, allowing the University to make further adjustments in the policy as seem necessary or advisable. There will be an opportunity to receive questions and comments on the policy at Friday’s Faculty Meeting. I am also happy to receive these directly, by email or otherwise. Faculty Coffee is back! Beginning next Tuesday, February 28, and each Tuesday after that from 9:25-10:15, Faculty are invited to gather in the Fireside Lounge of the DCC for coffee or tea. This is simply a time for conversation and fellowship with no program or agenda. Please join us!

Respectfully submitted, Ben Leslie