Delaware State University has partnered with Apple in a new Digital Learning Initiative that will supply each its 2018 fall freshmen as well as each faculty member with an iPad Pro.

Members of DSU’s Class of 2022 and faculty members began receiving their iPad Pros this week. Thanks to a major collaborative partnership with Apple, the University has launched the initiative that is the start of a move to make all instruction digital by 2020.

“This is an equity issue,” said DSU President Wilma Mishoe. “We are committing to the idea that it no longer matters what kind of technology that the parents of our students can afford. The university will be providing leading-edge instructional technology to everyone.”

As freshmen lined up in the William C. Jason Library to receive their iPads, Don Becker, chair of the Department of Mass Communications, Visual, and Performing Arts, explained the instructional significance of the program, noting that students in his department will also be receiving MacBook Pros capable of running advanced imaging software.

“Our majors have to be able to use the full version of Adobe Suite to complete their assignments,” said Becker. “Until now, if they didn’t have a laptop capable of running that software, they could only work on projects in our computer lab, which has both limited numbers of devices and limited hours. We are essentially setting them free to work whenever and wherever.”

One student couldn’t wait to open up the boxes containing her new devices, and laid out the MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, Logitech cases and Apple Pencil across the table in the William C. Jason Library where a team of staff members waited to help her set them up. She pulled out her smartphone and began taking pictures.

When some asked her what she was doing, she said, “I’m snap-chatting all my friends from high school who didn’t come to Delaware State. I’m telling them that this is what my university did for me, and I’m asking what theirs did for them.”

During the first two weeks of classes, university staff distributed and set up more than 1,000 iPads and nearly 150 MacBook Pros, while also issuing devices to the professors who will be using them to restructure the way that courses are taught.

“This is not about Apple and their devices,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Tony Allen. “It’s about focusing our efforts on how our students learn, and preparing them for the future now. The days of paper textbooks and handwritten exams are from a time gone by. We should leave them there. Over the next 18 months, the university intends to offer all our students an integrated digital learning environment across the campus. This is just the beginning.”

A significant component of the Digital Learning Initiative is extensive professional development for both faculty and students. Apple will bring in content-area experts to help DSU jump-start this classroom transition, while the institution’s own Office of Distance Education will be conducting extensive training on the learning management system known as “Blackboard,” which allows teachers to accept assignments, conduct tests, take attendance, maintain grades and develop course content in a digital format.

Allen noted that the combination of the four-year Inspire Scholarship for Delaware high school graduates and Apple technology “make an awesome case for coming to Delaware State University. There is no better value in higher education in our region.”