Innovation and Digital Learning at AU

In an art class, the room is buzzing with students spread around an active learning classroom and attaching paper to their iPad screens. They are tracing the lines of architectural photos they recently captured. They can then extend the drawing beyond the screen, expanding their understanding of linear perspective.

In biology, students are creating stop-frame videos to demonstrate the process of cell division, while over in English class, students are participating in peer-review groups in a flexible classroom using an online tool to collaborate and make notes paper-free as they learn about the writing and editing process.

From linear algebra to clinical experiences in nursing, classes across the Anderson University campus are finding innovative ways to use iPads, apps, and active classroom spaces to expand student learning while making the material more engaging than any static textbook or basic lecture. Innovation and Digital Learning at Anderson, which began with the Mobile Learning Initiative in 2011, has placed the university squarely at the forefront of high-tech teaching, creating distinctive learning environments that have earned rave reviews from students and professors alike. Even Apple representatives, who visited AU to assist with the distribution of iPads and find out more about the initiative, were impressed with the innovations incorporated into classes.

What does innovation and digital learning involve?

A key element of innovation and digital learning at Anderson is the integration of iPads and mobile applications to enhance teaching and learning at the university. All full-time traditional students receive an iPad that is theirs to keep, which provides all students and faculty members with a common platform. The real focus, however, is not just adding technology but creating a shift in the way professors teach and students learn. By redesigning courses to maximize the use of digital tools and updated learning spaces, students become more engaged, learning becomes more experiential, concepts become clearer and students leave the class better prepared.

Anderson University is a pioneer in mobile and digital learning and was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as an up-and-coming university and one with "an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching." AU has also been ranked as a “Most Innovative School” by U.S. News & World Report.

AU has found that when technology is incorporated, more students are better able to grasp challenging concepts. For example, pre-testing and post-testing in biology showed that using stop-animation video to learn about the cell division processes mitosis and meiosis led to huge gains in student understanding of those ideas. The key benefit, according to professors, is that students in the updated classes are more engaged and more excited about learning.

Innovative Learning Spaces

In recent years, Anderson University has sought to match the physical environment with the flexibility and innovation afforded by digital learning tools. This has resulted in a number of new and redesigned spaces on campus, including a learning commons in Thrift Library, redesigned active learning classrooms, a makerspace, and media studios. These physical changes enable students to better collaborate with their peers, design and create tangible items from using digital tools, and engage in deeper learning experiences.

Center for Innovation and Digital Learning

Anderson University faculty and students have access to resources and expertise through the Center for Innovation and Digital Learning (CIDL). The mission of the CIDL is to enrich teaching and learning through academic innovation. The CIDL aims to serve as a catalyst to make Anderson University a leader in teaching and learning in liberal arts higher education.

Further information about the CIDL is available at www.aucidl.com

Center of Excellence for Mobile Learning

Thanks to AU's place at the forefront of mobile technology, we received a multi-year grant totaling $600,000 to help K-12 schools integrate mobile devices into their classrooms. Because of the grant from the State of South Carolina, our campus is home to the Center of Excellence for Mobile Learning, tasked with duplicating the success of our groundbreaking Mobile Learning Initiative but targeting elementary, middle, and high school students.

How does redesigning to incorporate innovation and digital learning work?

The Center for Innovation and Digital Learning assists professors, departments, and Colleges who are interested in exploring digital learning and redesigning their courses or programs to maxi through sound instructional design, the adoption of current pedagogies, and meaningful selection and integration of technology. The program offers stipends that cover hardware, software and other redesign costs.

Each semester, a course design and development workshop is held for faculty, and during the summer, a design institute has professors think through changes that incorporate innovation and digital learning at the programmatic as well.

How do courses incorporate digital learning?

Each year, more AU classes incorporate digital learning, and material is continually updated to ensure student gains. Several professors record lecture material for students to view outside of class, allowing more time to implement that information through interactive projects during class time. Other students collaborate to create books, films, blogs, apps and podcasts, or take private, online music classes via FaceTime or Skype. Modeling software, embedded video, streaming microscopy, and 3D animation are a few ways our professors take student learning to the next level.

Professors also appreciate the immediate feedback iPads can provide, using polls prior to exams to find out in an instant if the majority of students understand key content. 

AU courses redesigned through the Mobile Learning Initiative include:

  • Introduction to Bible
  • Chemistry in Context
  • Principles of Biology 1 and 2
  • Art Foundations 1 and 2
  • English 101 and 102
  • Organic Chemistry 1 and 2
  • Cellular Biology
  • Christian Worldview and Contemporary Application
  • Lifetime Wellness
  • Pathophysiology
  • Methods and Materials for Teaching Science
  • Theatrical Performance and Practicum
  • Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 (Labs)
  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
  • Calculus and Analytical Geometry
  • Essentials of Economics
  • Linear Algebra
  • Genetics
  • Media Lab
  • Introduction to Teaching Students with Exceptionalities
  • Intro to Sociology
  • Methods and Materials for Teaching Reading

For more information regarding Innovation and Digital Learning, visit the Center for Innovation and Digital Learning or email cidl@andersonuniversity.edu