UVA Wise is using an innovative approach to achieving educational excellence by transforming learning with 1:1 iPad technology. With a significant population of first-generation students, our goal is to create an equitable framework from which all students are equipped to face today’s global challenges and become tomorrow’s leaders. We are the first higher education institution to embed a full- time Apple Professional Learning Specialist on campus. Given this opportunity, we weave use of iPad through every facet of our work, from teaching and learning in the classroom, to collaborating with colleagues, to improving outcomes on and off the playing field with coaching and athletics. This initiative truly bridges the digital divide for our students in Southwest Virginia.

Our vision is to provide new approaches to teaching and learning that empower our students to think critically and become engaged global citizens, ready to lead with an entrepreneurial spirit and impact the world. We envision our students’ iPad use as a catalyst for understanding how to utilize digital tools that broaden horizons, cultivate skills, and foster confidence to create their future in academic settings and beyond. Learning is a two-way street; our students have not only impressed our faculty and staff with their use of the devices, but also taught them new ways to think about technology in and outside of the classroom. We are committed to sustaining innovation and exploring new possibilities.

“The innovate2eleVAte iPad initiative at UVA Wise will level the playing field for our students. Faculty and staff are excited to implement projects that will create community, enhance academic engagement and help our students develop technological skills to meet changing workforce demands”

Donna Price Henry

Our Self-Service app provides easy access to a common library of educational apps, and students enrolled in courses utilizing specialized apps can have those deployed personally to their devices. Our faculty design a student-centered curriculum, intentionally developing professional competencies in technology and research, including development of living-learning communities and leadership programs.

Innovate2eleVAte in the News

All UVA Wise Freshmen Receive Free iPads
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iPad Lifeline: Chancellor Henry podcast interview
UVA Wise iPads Prove Valuable Tool During Covid-19

Curious about the innovative ways our students and faculty have used iPads to teach and learn? Read on. 

Teacher and Student-Designed Interactive Workbooks

In search of a way to create a more engaging learning experience for their education students, UVA Wise professors have reimagined their lectures by transforming them into interactive Keynote workbooks. Initially, instructors Wendy Martin (Mathematics) and Rachel Clay-Keohane (Mathematics) designed the workbooks for students to take notes and guide them through the assigned chapter. However, they've discovered that they could empower students to show what they know by assigning a chapter in the textbook and giving each student the responsibility of designing a workbook for their peers to complete.

The instructor-designed interactive workbooks were created using Keynote. Notice the various ways students demonstrate learning using the tools in Keynote using drag-and-drop word banks, embedded video tutorials, a place to write a response using the Apple Pencil, and erase the key to reveal the correct answers.

The student-designed interactive workbook uses the instructor-designed template, but the student became creative and added a personal touch as they explored designing their own assignment activities. On the last page, students learn to provide constructive peer feedback along with a numerical score.

Online Engagement with Collaborative Tools

In order to create an engaging and safe environment that promotes interaction between both faculty and students, students at UVA Wise use iPads to access faculty-created Padlet boards in both synchronous and asynchronous courses. Professors Madelynn Shell (Psychology) and Cody Sanders (Education) use Padlet to promote discussion and check in with students, and professor Margie Tucker (Chemistry) creates a platform for students to present their research findings.

padlet boards

Padlet discussion boards are used during a Developmental Psychology course (left) to engage in perspective-taking. The discussion board on the right is used for a Nutrition course in the Education department to promote weekly conversations and provide regular check-ins on student well-being and project completion.

padlet example with poster

This Padlet board (left) is used during a Chemistry course for research poster presentations. Students create their posters in Keynote and present their findings during class by accessing the Padlet board, providing a virtual “gallery walk”-style experience that saves money on printing costs and allows students to review the work of their peers at their own pace. The example on the right (blown up picture) is a student poster created in Keynote that uses multiple input methods from the iPad to display information: typed text with the keyboard, captured reference images with the built-in camera, and handwritten annotations with the Apple Pencil. This project was created by exercise science student Kaeleigh Bolling, class of 2021.

Microlectures, Introductions, and Tutorials with Clips

Students, faculty, and staff use the Clips app to create videos that utilize photos, live footage, sound, and animations to deliver content. In the samples below, the UVA Wise Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion uses Clips to produce their Wise Woman Wednesday series, professor Donald Sorah (Music) creates tutorials for both Gazpacho soup and student jury procedures, and professor Alex Reynolds (Psychology) creates course introduction videos.

Bringing Text to Life with Augmented Reality

In the education department, professor Elizabeth Dotson-Shupe prepares future middle- and high-school teachers to bring text-based concepts to life with augmented reality (AR) tools on the iPad. Using Keynote and AR apps on iPad, students choose a chapter from a grade level textbook and create augmented reality visuals to illustrate key concepts and vocabulary from the text. With the iPad’s built-in screen recording tool, students then film themselves exploring and narrating the scene.

science textbook

This student’s scene helps middle schoolers visualize the solar system by placing the augmented reality shapes above the textbook and into the student’s environment.

Concept Maps for Complex Vocabulary in Numbers

In the natural sciences department, professor Ryan Huish often facilitates a collaborative white-boarding activity with his students using post-it notes to organize complex terms. With iPads, Professor Huish and his students transform this activity using Numbers and iCloud collaboration. Professor Huish creates template documents with terms on sticky notes at the top, and students work together to create a concept map. Students use the formatting tools in Numbers to color-code the terms, and the built-in shapes library to add visual symbols.

UVA Wise Student iPad Guide

Every campus iPad automatically receives a copy of this 37-page multitouch ePub book produced by a team of students, faculty, and staff at UVA Wise using the Pages app. The guide presents embedded videos, screenshot galleries, and audio clips in a series of chapters designed to help students use their iPad for working with files, taking notes, creating media projects, organization and studying, and staying connected.

Page of student ipad guide


Our first major goal was to deploy devices to full- time faculty, staff, and students, then bridge the digital divide completely by deploying devices to all. Second, we aimed to instill a sense of comfort and confidence in utilizing iPads, increasing comfort level over 20% within a year. Under the guidance of our embedded Apple Professional Learning Specialist, we accomplished these goals by offering more professional development opportunities to faculty, as well as developing a Student iPad Guide. As a result, our campus was able to explore new ways to use iPad, cultivate their creativity, and foster confidence. Finally, we doubled our original 25% badging goal of faculty earning the Apple Teacher iPad badge (55%).

What's Next

Looking to the future of our initiative, we have woven the iPad into the fiber of institutional culture. Our strategic plan includes establishing a Center of Educational Excellence & Innovation, where iPad will provide the infrastructure to support professional development, delivering our educational mission. Our new Apple Teacher badging goal is 75%. We will expand iPad integration in freshman seminar to help incoming students navigate the demands of college successfully. Using digital portfolios and other tools, we will work with students, focusing on their unique circumstances to develop a comprehensive plan that delineates core requirements, experiential learning goals, and PD opportunities. Innovate2eleVAte is taking our campus to the cutting edge in preparing students for futures in a competitive world.