Teachers and students have mixed feelings about myCSUNtablet initiative

To begin the fall semester, seven academic programs were given the opportunity to combine education and technology, potentially leading to one cohesive force of learning.

However, after a month of implementation, the myCSUNtablet initiative has garnered mixed reviews among teachers and students.

“I’d rather just take notes on paper and just have a typical lecture than sit there and do activities on the iPad,” said Mei-Ling Cabrera, junior cell and molecular biology major. “I guess it’s kind of a learning thing but I don’t learn like that.”

Cabrera is among those types of students who prefer a more traditional form of learning, consisting of taking notes on paper while listening to a professor’s lecture.

Ibtissam Haddada, 24, senior student, said she initially struggled with learning how to use the applications on the iPad, but supports the initiative moving forward.

“It’s a good thing [for] education,” she said. “It’s a good thing also not to carry too much stuff on you; it’s just [the] iPad that has all kinds of notes you need, everywhere you go, basically.”

After having taught at CSUN for 15 years, Beth Phillips, who teaches classes for the physical therapy doctorate program, feels using the iPad as a teaching tool has been quite an adjustment.

“It’s teaching an old dog a new trick for sure,” Phillips said. “I was happy with a scalpel in the anatomy lab and chalk in the chalkboard. But I’m convinced now that I’m halfway through with this that it is going to be really helpful once I’m done with it.”

Phillips said she has experienced technological snafus when students are trying to access an application all at once, but that the problem was not a major hinderance to the learning environment.

Brandon Johnson, a student in one of Phillips’ classes, has benefitted from the myCSUN tablet initiative.

“It has actually helped me out in preparation for quizzes and examinations and, deeper than that, helped me actually understand what’s happening in the human body rather than just recording what is on a test,” Johnson said.

Some professors are not only using iPads to teach course content, but also to administer exams and quizzes.

Cindy Malone, professor of biology, said that students may be experiencing added stress from the new software they’re using to take tests.

“There was no amazing revelation of wow, everybody did much better, but that could be just it was a lot of stress taking the exam on the iPad,” Malone said. “The new software and the inability to take notes on stuff and just a whole new thing may have masked any kind of increased learning that we may have seen. The increased anxiety decreased the ability to find the right answers.”

Phillips believes that once the kinks work themselves out this semester, using iPads will become a better experience for students and professors alike.

“I think once everyone gets used to using it and understands how to quickly download things, what apps work best for themselves, its going to be very efficient,” Phillips said. “There’ll be much less use of paper and much less strain on your muscles carrying around heavy textbooks.”

As part of the initiative, students are required to either already possess an iPad or buy one through Apple or the CSUN bookstore. Students can opt to pay for the device in two- or three-semester installments using their financial aid.

Phillips said she tries to accommodate students who either cannot afford an iPad or have a different type of tablet.

“I don’t want somebody to have finances be the reason they can’t participate [in class],” Phillips said. “They won’t have as many bells and whistles and widgets and things they can interact with, but they will have all the basic content in a PDF format if they can’t buy the iPad.”

The long-term impact of the myCSUNtablet initiative remains to be seen, but some students are already looking forward to the possibilities.

“I think the future is bright,” Johnson said. “I think that it’s all about storing information in one localized area that allows students and professors ease of access to necessary and pertinent information to help us absorb the information that we need to learn.”


A look into the new iOS 7 system from Apple

Now that the new iPhones 5S and 5C have been released, it’s time to talk about the operating system which comes installed out of the box.

iOS 7, which debuted two days before the latest Apple devices hit stores, boasts many improvements to the previous operating system, iOS 6.

First, the look of the OS is completely overhauled. Icons are more two-dimensional and flat, colors more vibrant, and many apps have changed face, which could cause early-adopters to search for their Photos, Game Center or Newsstand apps unsuccessfully at first. Other app icons look fairly similar to their iOS 6 counterparts and will be easier to find.

Another major update is Siri, which can now understand and execute more commands such as checking the score of your favorite sports team’s game, searching the web for photos of a particular subject, and more. Apple’s personal assistant also includes a new male voice, which can be toggled through the phone’s settings.

Native apps received new features as well, most notably the camera. Video, photo and panorama modes are accessed by a simple swipe to the left or right. Debuting with this update is a square mode, which makes it easier to take Instagram-ready photos. Nine filters were also added to the app.

While iOS 7 brings major updates to other pre-installed apps such as Messages, Voice Memos, Phone, Calendar, Safari and others, it also is introducing new features.

Apple is debuting Control Center, which can be accessed by swiping upwards from just above the home button. Here, users will find icons for their Bluetooth, Wifi, Camera, Calendar, Calculator, Airplane Mode, and a native flashlight, which is another new addition. Gone are the cumbersome days of having to go through the Settings apps of an iPhone or iPad to locate these heavily-used functions.

Music lovers now have a new option for discovering new artists in iTunes Radio. The feature lets users pick from radio stations based on popular artists or decades, or they can create their own, mimicking what can be done on Pandora.

The Notification Center is also receiving a new view called Today. The feature gives a summary of the weather, what is on a person’s calendar, the day’s stocks, and any reminders that a user has set. Viewing other notifications can be accessed by pressing the All option, which is right next to the Today and Missed options.

Not all iDevices are eligible for this new operating system. The iPhone 5S, 5C and 5 all have full iOS 7 functionality, as well as the third generation, fourth generation and mini iPads. Older devices, like the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, will be shorted certain features, such as the camera’s new features or Airdrop, which allows users to send files over the air to other nearby devices.

iOS can be downloaded by going to the iPhone or iPad’s settings, choosing Software Update, and following the steps. At least three gigabytes of space is needed for the OS to download and install.

The latest iPhones come with iOS version 7.0.1. All other devices that upgrade to the new iOS will receive version 7.0.

Apps you didn’t know you needed: know when to run and pee

RunPeeAPPIn a movie theater, it is expected to ignore a phone call while the film is playing. But when nature dials your body’s number, that’s a call that may not be possible to leave unanswered.

The problem is a trip to the bathroom could mean missing key plot points, resulting in the tricky decision of “hold or go.”

Luckily, there’s an app for that.

RunPee lets the viewer know, down to the minute, when and for how long to get up and use the facilities during a movie. The app gives an overview of what occurred during a trip to the loo.

A timer can be set within the app to let movie-goers keep track of how long they’ve been gone.

There are 636 movies in the app’s database. They can be sorted in order of release date in time intervals of six, 12 or 24 months. Films can also be sorted alphabetically.

The app also provides a synopsis of a movie’s first three minutes in case of a late arrival.

An additional feature is the app shows whether or not there is more movie after the end credits.

RunPee costs 99 cents and is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices as well as Windows phones.