While it remains an open question when iPads or other tablet devices will become standard diplomatic equipment, the Patterson School's iPad trial has already shown the considerable benefits this transformative technology may provide one of the world's most traditional professions.
After more than two years with all of our students, faculty, and staff using iPads, the device has become a must have item. And, in our context, "must have" has actually meant "must have with you" at any given moment. Students almost always bring their iPads to class, but where the device has had the greatest impact is everywhere else: in the corridor, on a bus, at lunch, waiting for a plane.
The iPad has shined most not in content creation, but content delivery. Coupled with PressReader (which provides instant access to almost three thousand international newspapers), it lets policy wonks in training stay current on breaking events from Venezuela to Vatican City to Viet Nam. Other apps offer up live BBC and NPR broadcasts, the evening TV news, or the featured author last night on The Daily Show. In many ways the iPad is an unbeatable media device. Light enough to always have at hand, battery life sufficient to go all day, and a screen that is large and bright enough to make reading enjoyable.
From the educator perspective, using the iPad has enhanced student teamwork and information sharing, provided an easy vehicle to convey class content and required readings, and improved student presentations. In a recent survey, over 90% of our students said the iPad had enhanced their academic experience, with more than 80% believing the device would be valuable in their future profession (a third said "extremely valuable").
Our effort has drawn considerable attention, from sponsors providing hardware and software to those who make the magic in Cupertino. The Patterson School has been designated a “Distinguished Apple Program” in recognition of our efforts to enhance the training of future international affairs professionals with the latest technology and methods, with an eye toward both the classroom and the workplace.
We plan to continue our iPad trial through 2013. While we have been very happy with the device, integration into the classroom experience has been slower than expected and we have not yet fully tapped the device's full potential. If you would like to assist with this effort, have developed an iPad application or accessory you believe would benefit our students, or simply have thoughts and perspectives you would like to share, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage those interested in following the Patterson School’s iPad project to visit the special blog at http://iPatt.uky.edu. This site will provide updates regarding the trial, as well as postings and reports from students and faculty on their unique insights and experiences.