Faculty members across the UAE are currently developing curriculum concept connections for the use of the iPad applications in and beyond the classroom. We are at a unique time in the history of higher education in the UAE. We have an opportunity to put in each student’s hands meaningful, relevant emerging technology as a catalyst for targeted advancement of evidence-based practices of active, authentic learning. As we move aggressively forward in the iPad project, we need to carefully and expediently address high quality, useability, consistency and relevant pedagogical methods in an open environment that supports collaboration, access to resources, and efficiency for continuous improvement. For this project to be more than an isolated effort, we need to integrate an appropriate social science experimental design such as user-centered evaluation, in which we collect data on our progress to gather empirical understanding that results in wisdom about practice, both for internal and external dissemination. This approach will lead to a series of scholarship of teaching and learning manuscripts, which further positions the higher education community of the UAE as a progressive leader for a world with declining capacity for education innovation and leadership.
This is a critical time for the UAE Higher Education to appropriately integrate a dynamic teaching tool, such as the iPad. However, one of the greatest risks is that we fail to use this opportunity as a significant leap forward in our pedagogical (andragogical) process. Simply repackaging existing materials into a revised format will not only represent a missed opportunity, but also be detrimental to our students. For example, if we scan documents into static files and open them on an iPad and assess learning with closed-ended exams, then we have actually regressed, because we are doing simple things in a complex and costly way.