Tech Instructor: Have iPad, Will Travel (and Teach)

SOCORRO, N.M. March 19, 2013 -- When Tech instructor Tom Stephenson had to travel recently, he didn’t need to worry about missing any of his weekly Engineering Management classes. He knew he could stay connected using a virtual classroom provided by Educational Outreach and Distance Instruction. And he didn’t even need to bring his laptop; his iPad was sufficient to the task.

While teaching from anywhere in the world is not new to Tech instructors thanks to EODI’s Adobe Connect videoconferencing software, doing so with just an iPad was a first.

"I have been increasingly using just my iPad when I travel for business due to size and weight and I have found that, with some work, I have been able to adapt it for most of my business needs,” Stephenson said.

He conducted the class from his Boston airport hotel room using the 3G wireless functionality of the iPad. With the tablet’s built-in mic and camera and Connect’s ability to deliver and annotate live content (using the Adobe Connect app written for both iPad and Android devices), Stephenson found that neither he nor the students in his Organizational Entrepreneurship class had to suffer from his need for business travel.

"Since this was the first time we were trying this with the iPad, we did encounter a few issues, but they were mostly minor and the support team at Tech was great at helping to work through the issues. I'll probably use a headset next time, but otherwise don't need anything else,” Stephenson said. “The functionality was similar to the classroom and we were able to have a similar class experience."

The instructor has become adept at using the functionality of the Connect virtual classroom. He regularly uses breakout “rooms” to divide up his class, most of whom participate from homes and offices, into work groups, in which they use microphones or text chat to work through an issue. Stephenson can “visit” each room one at a time to participate and check on each group’s progress.

When he travels overseas later this semester he’s taking his iPad along; there’s no reason a few thousand miles should separate him from his teaching duties.

– NMT –