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Apple and Ohio State University Partner on a Major Project Dubbed 'The Digital Flagship University Initiative'



In May Apple launched a new app development curriculum for high school and community college students. Then in August Apple announced their curriculum for app development with swift offered in more than 30 colleges in the U.S. This week Apple pushed their education initiatives to another level when an announcement was made that the Ohio State University and Apple had created a comprehensive, university-wide digital learning initiative that will support educational innovation for students and economic development opportunities for the community.


The Digital Flagship University represents a major initiative under Ohio State's strategic plan, with particular focus on teaching and learning as well as research and creative expression. Through a collaboration with Apple, Ohio State will establish:


  • a student-success initiative to integrate learning technology throughout the university experience


  • an iOS design laboratory on the Columbus campus serving faculty, staff, students and members of the broader community


  • university-wide opportunities for students to learn coding skills to enhance their career-readiness in the app economy


Ohio State President Michael V. Drake stated that "We are establishing our Digital Flagship University initiative by combining the resources and talents of an international technology leader and one of the most comprehensive public universities in the world. Our students and community will have outstanding opportunities to develop modern mobile skills to enhance learning and excel in the competitive workplace."


Apple CEO Tim Cook added that "At Apple, we believe technology has the power to transform the classroom and empower students to learn in new and exciting ways. This unique program will give students access to the incredible learning tools on iPad, as well as Apple's new coding curriculum that teaches critical skills for jobs in some of the country's fastest-growing sectors. I'm thrilled the broader central Ohio community will also have access to coding opportunities through Ohio State's new iOS Design Lab."



As it grows, the student-success initiative will help provide universal access to a common set of learning technologies. Starting in autumn 2018, new first-year students at the Columbus and regional campuses will receive an iPad Pro with tools including Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard as well as apps to support learning and life at Ohio State. This will be funded through the university's administrative efficiency program.


The iOS design lab will offer technological training and certification to students, faculty, staff and members of the broader community interested in developing apps in Swift, the Apple programming language used to write some of the most successful apps in the App Store. The lab will support educational innovation, career development for students and economic development opportunities for the central Ohio community and the university's other campus locations.


The Digital Flagship University initiative will launch during the 2017-18 academic year. The iOS design lab will open in a temporary space in 2018, moving to a permanent location in 2019. Students will begin training in Swift coding in spring semester 2018.


Bruce A. McPheron, executive vice president and provost: "Our bold aspiration is to create the world's largest and most effective integrated environment for teaching, learning and discovery. By providing students access to the same technology from day one, we will open up a new world of instructional possibilities for faculty."


As more students adopt these tools, Ohio State will expand support for faculty interested in further integrating technology in their courses. Faculty in a variety of disciplines use iPads and other technology for instructional purposes. Examples include:


  • In a 'flipped' chemistry course, students watch lectures and complete assignments online using iTunes, which provides enhanced opportunities for dialogue and collaborative problem solving in the classroom.


  • Journalism students in the School of Communication use iPads loaded with tools enabling them to learn skills important to their future careers.


  • The College of Social Work deployed iPads to all staff and faculty as part of a comprehensive mobile education initiative in 2012 and published the first three iTunes U courses in social work in the nation.


  • In biology courses on the study of plants, iPads function as field notebooks to document plant life, instruction aids and supplementary textbooks.
  • The Marching Band, part of the School of Music, uses the iPad to teach and learn the band's nationally recognized formations.


  • iPads have been supplied to medical students since 2013 and are used as part of clinical instruction at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center.


Beyond the enhancements to teaching, learning and discovery, the technology will expand access to interactive textbooks and other digital course materials.


Ohio State, with help from Apple, will work with the university community to develop additional apps and other tools as part of the Digital Flagship University initiative. Ohio State will own the iPad technology suite and provide it to students.


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