We Will Rock You: Curricular Disruption in the Classroom

Document Type


Presentation Date

Fall 10-2012

Conference Name

International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Conference Location

Hamilton, Canada


This paper will address the “integrating diverse disciplinary approaches to teaching, learning and SOTL” conference thread. My original question was simply how to get the students to spend more time editing their research papers to obtain a higher quality paper. This led to the idea of creating an iMovie research paper where the students would have to narrate their text, add images, and music for a final project. I put together a proposal requesting iPads for my seven students in Modern Philosophy. The final iMovie project brought together various disciplines since it required the student to find both visual components for their movie but also music appropriate to the time period. They were also encouraged to connect modern philosophy with some other discipline. The students wrote their paper as an iThoughts storyboard, found and/or created images to enhance that text, added music, and read their text as the narration of the movie. This single project, therefore, engages a diverse array of learners: auditory, visual, collaborative, creative, critical, linear.

This one project also encompasses diverse disciplinary approaches: writing a traditional paper, art appreciation, music appreciation, visual arts, and multi-media presentation. One of the outcomes of the iMovie project was better text for their research papers since it required the students to continually revisit the text and therefore to continually edit. Comparison of papers between same level philosophy classes confirmed that the iMovie project resulted in better research paper text. This proof of concept course has inspired an ongoing SOTL investigation into the efficacy of mobile devices in better meeting student learning outcomes.

Questions to be addressed this fall are: 1) to what extent do mobile devices support learning outcomes? 2) To what extent is student learning and retention enhanced by mobile technology? 3) Does curricular re-design around mobile devices better meet the learning objective of critical thinking?

The Educause Horizon Report (2010) mentions several universities that are experimenting with mobile devices. However in all cases, the mobile device was substituted into the classroom either for a textbook, video screen, or notebook. None of the case studies thus far have investigated the efficacy of mobile devices to transform the curriculum to better meet student learning outcomes. My preliminary findings indicate that these devices can transform the classroom curriculum to better meet learning outcomes. A larger study will be conducted in the fall at my University that compares iPad-required sections with non-iPad sections to measure the extent that mobile devices play in better meeting student outcomes through curricular re-envisioning.

The use of mobile devices is not for the kind of teacher who prefers to be the “sage on the stage.” Mobile devices allow the student to become a colleague in the content of the course, which better engages them since they have a greater ownership in the content.

The session seeks to achieve a better appreciation of how mobile devices can easily tap into diverse disciplines that transform the classroom resulting in deeper student learning, prolonged engagement, and heightened critical thinking skills.


technology, humanities, iPad, mobile, philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction | Philosophy

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