December 7, 2011
iPads (and tablet computers in general) are no longer a passing fad, but a fundamental shift in mobile computing. Some of you have already begun implementing iPad use in your union, but for those just starting out, I wanted to offer some thoughts to help move you forward.
Strategy and support
Before purchasing an iPad for your union, consider writing out a plan with your staff highlighting why this purchase and implementation are necessary, how you will train your staff in using the iPad, and who gets to regularly use it. For my Rondileau Campus Center staff at Bridgewater State University, it was clear that our building managers would be using it on their rounds. It also is useful to have Internet access to help answer questions, give directions, or offer recommendations for local attractions. It was important to have this information together as I made the original purchase request to my assistant vice president, vice president, and chief information officer.
iTunes account and apps
We created an iTunes account using our department email account, with access to the password only given to our professional staff. We paid for two apps, File Maker Go and Quick Office HD (to edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations and to view PDFs). All the other apps we installed were free, including Evernote, DropBox, and Pandora. We still debate whether to install Angry Birds or not.
Duty log, on the go
Using the File Maker Go app, I developed a mobile database that is centralized on a university server deployed by File Maker Server software, so multiple users could be logged in at the same time and see changes live. Our managers use the File Maker Go app to record usage statistics, write up duty logs, and manage our inventory.
Other iPad uses
- Surveys: Using Survey Monkey, one could use the iPad to ask community members to take brief surveys and start conversations.
- Social Media Connections: After the survey is complete, have them connect with your department via your Facebook Fan Page and Twitter page. Also, if you have a blog or YouTube page, encourage them to subscribe to your content.
- Pictures/Video: With the built-in camera, take pictures and video of everything from events and programs to any damage found on building rounds.
Overall, using the iPad has been a positive experience for our staff and students and exposed them to technology with which they may not have otherwise engaged. If you can find a way to purchase one for your department, I highly recommend it.
How do (or would) you use the iPad in your union? Are there any apps that you would recommend?
is the Director, Rondileau Campus Center at Bridgewater State University.
Ed has spent the last 13 years working in higher education, specifically student affairs departments such as residence life, student activities, and currently as the Director of the Campus Center at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. Each day, he builds campus community (both in-person and online), develop current and future leaders, and actively participate in social media to professionally share and grow.