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Italian classes get iPads for Italy

April 7th, 2011

The opportunity to go to Italy over Spring Break is one that does not come often. The opportunity to go to Italy for Spring Break equipped with an iPad is even more rare. But, for some lucky John Carroll students in Luigi Ferri’s IC 299C course, this was a seemingly dream-like occurrence come true.

This opportunity to experience Italy first-hand was enhanced by the fact that the John Carroll IT department loaded 24 iPads with course and travel information for the students to use during the trip.

Much buzz has surrounded the iPad with its iOS 4 operating system which allows users to browse, read, and see everything just by touching the screen.

This system is also used in the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

And the iPad lived up to the hype for Ferri.

“I personally believe that the iPads were very useful. We were able to have all the operas we had to listen to available through the iPad, as well as all the materials for the course. We also had presentations that were used during the lectures in Italy, and the various visits to museums,” he said.

Ferri feels that the students enjoyed using the iPads on the trip as well. The added bonus: Each student received an iPad for the duration of the semester.

Sophomore Natalie Winer, who was a member of the course, said she received her iPad just before Christmas Break and used it during the course. She said the device was cool to use, but it was not her favorite.

“I am not a huge fan of it,” Winer said. “I’m much more used to my laptop.”

Using iPads in a class was new to JCU this semester.

“The idea of the iPads was originally proposed by the Center for Faculty Development more than one year ago,” Ferri said. “This course was a ‘pilot project’ for JCU. The intent was to see what use the students made of the iPad not only in this course, but in all the classes they were taking this semester. For this reason, before the end of the semester, students will have to answer a survey.”

At this time, Ferri and Jeffrey La Favre, director of the Language Learning Center and the technical backbone for the project, will be able to see just how much the students enjoyed the iPads.

In addition to La Favre, Ferri said, “Many more people across campus contributed to make this project come true.”

One of these people was James Burke, the associate chief information officer for John Carroll’s Information Technology Services.

According to Burke, “The intent of using the iPads in this course was to enhance the student experience by pre-loading the iPads with content related to the course [that was already available through the Grasselli Library or prepared by the professor]. By using the iPads, the students did not have to carry a load of paper materials with them to Italy and were able to more quickly reference information about the sites they were visiting.”

Ferri’s IC 299C course entitled “The Role of Women in Modern Italy through Opera and Literature” consisted of eight weekly 2.5 hour meetings on campus and was culminated by what he calls this “field trip” to Italy.

According to the department of classical and modern languages and cultures, these sorts of trips give students the opportunity to experience “Italian history, literature, art and culture first hand as they travel and study in Italy for 10 days during Spring Break.”

Ferri’s class did just that. “While in Italy, students had on-site lectures and visited many museums, churches and other places of interest for the course,” Ferri said.

Italian Professor Santa Casciani accompanied the group on the trip and proved to be a valuable asset as “[she] lectured the students about the masterpieces we saw at the Uffizi museum in Florence, and other places,” said Ferri.

“The study of those works of art completed our overview on the representation of women in Italian history,” he said.

Ferri said he was very happy with how the trip turned out. They saw 11 cities, including Venice on the day of Carnevale, their Mardi Gras celebration. They also saw an opera in the La Scala theater in Milan.

“That was one of the highlights of the trip [and] of course, being in Italy, a lot of good food was involved,” said Ferri.

In addition to gourmet Italian dining, Ferri lauded the fact that the trip had good students involved.

“I had a great time,” Winer said about the trip, adding that she wants to travel internationally and possibly live in Italy for a few years after graduation.

Burke feels that this was a “great enabling use of technology” which “had a significantly positive impact on the course.”

Whether they were meeting in University Heights or Venice, “Wherever the conversation took place, the students could easily follow along,” Burke said.