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Dakota Wesleyan announces university-wide Digital DWU initiative

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Digital DWU Coming Fall 2018

DWU is first university in South Dakota to create one-to-one program and in collaboration with Apple

The digital world comes with one constant: technology is always changing, affecting and reinventing careers; and if higher education wants to remain relevant, it must be a part of the change.

Dakota Wesleyan University administration and faculty not only acknowledge this fact but embrace it, as the 133-year-old liberal arts college proves that the key to its own longevity, and the success of its graduates, is its ability to evolve.

Digital DWU is part of that evolution.

Dakota Wesleyan launched its Digital DWU initiative on Tuesday, Feb. 13, to the campus community with a rollout fitting its purpose – to excite today’s students about education. (Click here to watch) This new university-wide initiative will incorporate technology into the classrooms in new ways. DWU will expand on the already existing nursing simulation labs, innovation labs and science labs with courses that will integrate more technology into learning and the application of studies – from helping athletic training students diagnose injuries on the field or court, to changing how chemistry group projects are taught, to giving coaches the opportunity to view game footage while traveling to or from athletic events.

Digital DWU is the next step in higher education at Dakota Wesleyan and will ensure its graduates have the real-world experience and tech-savvy skills needed to compete in tomorrow’s market.

DWU will become the first and only university in South Dakota to adopt a one-to-one program by giving each full-time, on-campus student an iPad this fall, and the first in the region to collaborate with Apple on a university-wide digital initiative.

The initiative has been in the works for two years, but today was the first the students were made aware of it.

They entered the Sherman Center and were surprised to see iPad demonstration stations with both DWU faculty and Apple representatives, DWU admission ambassadors handing out free iTune gift cards, and junior Aaron Ahmadu, from Houston, Texas, performing a rap he wrote and produced for the event. DWU President Amy Novak followed Ahmadu and announced Digital DWU to the campus, the community and to those watching the livestream.

“… We had to ask ourselves, beyond using social media, how can we use technology to help each of you to learn and retain more content, to communicate more effectively and to make an impact in the workplace and the world,” Novak said to the crowd. “Digital DWU is our comprehensive, university-wide digital learning initiative that will be at the forefront of educational innovation preparing students for leadership and service in the digital world. Digital DWU is our commitment to a model of learning that combines innovation, analysis and knowledge while leveraging the power of a digital revolution that changes the way we communicate, teach, learn and work.”

According to The World Economic Forum Report in 2016, 65 percent of students entering primary school two years ago will enter jobs that do not exist yet today, so Digital DWU is as much about integrating technology as it is about teaching students to think creatively and ethically about technology and its applications.

“We want to give our students the highest-quality education and the tools they will need to apply what they have learned in the classroom out in the world, adapting to and creating new careers and products,” said DWU’s provost, Dr. Joe Roidt. “It is equally important to us to ensure that today’s graduates enter the world as digital-savvy, ethically minded adults. Our approach to digital isn’t solely about career preparation; it’s also about how human beings will interact with digital technologies and how these technologies can be utilized to improve the human condition.”

There are one-to-one device initiatives in schools from elementary to higher education, and Dakota Wesleyan is taking what these programs have learned and creating a program that uses the device to its fullest potential.

“Of course, when we first broached the idea of a one-to-one initiative, our first priority was to make sure we did this well,” said Fredel Thomas, dean of admissions and marketing. “Our initiative is a growing, evolving program where faculty will take the experiential learning that already takes place within their classes and use the device to expand on that, while challenging students to approach projects more creatively and collaboratively.”

Full-time, degree-seeking students in the university’s on-campus and hybrid programs will receive an iPad on the first day of classes this fall. When they become juniors, they will then receive a new iPad that becomes their personal property upon graduation. This iPad will have the student’s portfolio of projects to take with them as they enter the workforce.

Two professors are piloting digitally enhanced courses on campus this semester. Dr. Lana Loken, director of clinical education in DWU’s athletic training programs, is excited about the addition the iPad devices will make to how her students learn, record and diagnose, perhaps right from the court or field. The students in her course will also be creating a “living” textbook which can be expanded upon and edited constantly, which alumni will also have access to, in order to keep all DWU athletic trainers current with the fast-paced advances in medicine.

Dakota Wesleyan acknowledges that it is preparing today’s students for an ever-changing job market.

“It is still important for students to receive a well-rounded education, rich in creativity and communication, because those are qualities a computer doesn’t have,” Novak said later. “It is important that we educate our students with critical-thinking skills, digital literacy, hone their creativity, and foster teamwork and collaboration because those are all things that human beings do better than computers. We are not pretending the world isn’t changing, and we aren’t discarding everything higher education stands for; what we are doing is preparing graduates for an ever-changing industry and providing them with as many tools as possible to be successful.”

In the news:

Listen to Jacqueline Hendry from South Dakota Public Broadcasting cover the event here.

View The Daily Republic's coverage here.

View KMIT's coverage here

View KORN's coverage here

View KSFY's coverage here

View KDLT's coverage here