“No class today?” a voice asked. “No class today, thank you for checking your email!” Courtney Rickard, Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Development and Life Skills, said as she high-fived a student-athlete passing by.
This is precisely the type of effect Stony Brook’s Athletics Department was hoping for when it distributed iPads to each of its 435 athletes this August.
“We were all so blessed,” freshman track team member Kevon White said. “Most of us never had iPads before.”
In 2006, when the Goldstein Family Student-Athlete Development Center opened, it was designed to offer student athletes academic advising, tutoring, career advisement and life skills programs. The 6,000-square foot facility featured a state-of-the-art computer lab, a multipurpose function room, a career resource/library area and a private study room.
However just nine years later, the Athletics department at Stony Brook has expanded and done so in a big way.
“We’ve outgrown the place,” Rickard said. “We only have 24 computers and we have students that don’t have laptops.”
The effect of the iPad initiative was evident on registration day this year, when the center would have normally been packed.
“Without the iPads last year, it became kinda hectic inside the computer lab because it was overcrowded,” sophomore football player Pat Irwin said. “The iPads gave us the capability of accessing anything from anywhere, whether that’s our game plan, our game films, practice, even our play book.”
The Athletics department has teamed up with DoIt to front load apps onto the iPad that they feel are crucial for students’ daily academic experience. Blackboard, calculator, calendar, all Google apps, email, and even financial planning software are all pre installed for students.
The Seawolves have already earned academic honors this season with three members of Stony Brook’s Cross Country program being named to the All-Academic team by the America East Conference.
To earn the honor, senior Joseph Clark, junior Megan Cooney and junior Christina Melian had to earn over a 3.30 grade point average while finishing in the top 45 at the conference championships.
Three members of the men’s soccer team, sophomore forward Vince Erdei, senior midfielder Martin Giordano and senior midfielder Alejandro Fritz also landed on the America East All-Academic team, as well as senior setter Nicole Vogel of women’s volleyball.
Internet access is not limited on the iPads and students can also use the tablets to surf the web, play games, or access other means of distraction.
But Rickard admits, “We really have not gotten negative professor feedback and I think that’s a testament to our students to be adults in the classroom.”
The trial with Athletics has been a success. Students rave about the iPads, deeming them a perfect replacement for bulky laptops and a convenient way to stay organized.
The eminent success of this program has sparked debate in other departments about adopting similar programs to further integrate technology into classrooms.
“It’s the wave of the future,” Rickard said. “There’s just so much we can do. There’s so much good to be had from it.”