St. John Fisher announces iFisher Initiative
Over the next year, St. John Fisher College will transform its student learning experience with the launch of the iFisher Next Generation Learning Initiative.
With this launch, Fisher will become the first college in upstate New York to implement an Apple 1:1 program for all undergraduate students as part of a broad initiative designed to enhance teaching and learning at the college. The college will provide an iPad, keyboard case and Apple Pencil to all incoming and continuing undergraduate students starting next fall.
The Apple 1:1 program focuses on strengthening collaboration, critical thinking and creativity among students, faculty and staff, as well as shaping students’ 21st-century digital literacy skills. The program will be complemented by support for engaging and active learning pedagogies, as well as a re-envisioning of campus learning spaces.
This new initiative is an extension of the Fisher Edge student success program, the college’s commitment to providing students with transformative experiences designed to help them achieve their educational goals and early career outcomes.
“The iFisher initiative reflects the alignment of our student-centered mission to the global, complex and digital world we live in,” President Gerard Rooney said. “More than simply making Apple technology accessible to students, it is a strategic, broad re-envisioning of teaching and learning at Fisher. This is a clear example of the demonstrated commitment to innovation that continues to move Fisher forward.”
Faculty at Fisher have started to weave Apple devices into their courses. During the 2019-20 academic year, seven faculty members, in collaboration with the Apple 1:1 Task Force, piloted the initiative to explore how the technology could be incorporated across various disciplines.
During the pilot phase, more than 100 students in math, biology, economics, education and English courses used the devices to take interactive digital notes and access electronic resources including eTextbooks. They were able to create videos or presentations, work collaboratively sharing and creating documents with classmates, and complete online tests, among other tasks that allowed them to demonstrate their proficiency with course content in unique and interesting ways.
Last summer, following the shift to remote instruction during the spring semester due to the pandemic, the college launched Fisher Apple Academy to provide faculty with the necessary skills to utilize iPads in the teaching and learning environment. The academy included training sessions focused on basic iPad navigation, specific apps and brainstorming ways this technology can be used in their specific courses. More than 140 faculty members participated and earned recognition as Apple-certified teachers. By fall, all faculty members had an option to use the iPad and related platforms in their courses.
Provost Kevin Railey said Fisher is supporting active teaching strategies more fully and revitalizing learning spaces on campus to allow these strategies to be more easily implemented. This includes adjusted layouts, movable furniture and new technologies that make the spaces mobile-friendly and highly connected.
“As a college, we are embarking on a long-term investment to reimagine our learning spaces and the ways they support instruction faculty want to deliver,” he said. “This is an important step in an ongoing process centered on improving the overall educational experience we provide for our students.”
Professional development and mentoring will be available to Fisher faculty through the new DePeters Family Center for Innovation and Teaching Excellence. The support will focus on active learning strategies proven to have the best potential for student success, while learning how to maximize the available technology and learning spaces in which faculty teach.