iPads used for more than just games

COLLEGE STATION, Texas ––As summer approaches, students now have many new and exciting opportunities to get involved with undergraduate research.  Summer provides a unique opportunity to become fully immersed in a research project, particularly one that involves travel away from campus.  To help foster the development of innovative summer research experiences for undergraduate students, Honors and Undergraduate Research has initiated this year, the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR).  One of these opportunities will explore the use of mobile technology for data collection in Namibia.

This program will be led by Dr. Tracy Rutherford, Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications (ALEC), Dr. Theresa Murphrey, Assistant Professor for ALEC, and Graduate Assistant Samantha Alvis.  Texas A&M University students will work with University of Namibia students to collect data on mobile devices for social and educational purposes.  SPUR funds will be used to purchase iPads which will be used to evaluate the impact of digital data collection on technology acceptance and data quality.

“Mobile technology acceptance can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of media used for educational purposes,” said Rutherford, in her proposal for the program.  “In order to harness the power of technology to improve communication and enable education to take place, technology acceptance must be understood.”         

The data obtained through the program will be used to assess the impact of different types of technology on the educational process.  This research project is an expansion of a previous project during the summer of 2011 in Namibia, where paper surveys were the means of information collection.  This summer students will use iPads to collect more types of data than were possible using paper surveys.

By participating in this program in the summer, students will have the chance to work in an international setting and be able to continue their investigations into the fall 2012 semester.  As a part of the program students will participate in a capstone research course in the fall to analyze the data collected in Namibia, and then have to opportunity to present their results at Student Research Week the following spring.  

This program is a once in a lifetime opportunity for 13 undergraduate and graduate students with the support of the SPUR award.  The program dates are set for July 6, 2012 through July 30, 2012 at the University of Namibia Ogongo Campus in Africa.

Contact : Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu

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