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Long Island University's iPad Initiative Spawns Local App Development

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Jill Goetz,Writer, Marketing Services
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Kiichi TakeuchiBROOKVILLE, N.Y– Not so long ago, geology students at Long Island University (LIU) learned about earthquakes by reading textbooks and watching videos. Now, they follow the plate shift and feel the earth rumble in a much more "hands-on" way.

Driven by the iPad, LIU students can now experience earthquakes virtually, using a hand-held earthquake detection app called the "iSeismometer." The app was designed and published by Kiichi Takeuchi, 32, a graduate student in Earth science at LIU’s C.W. Post Campus.

"When the experience startles you, that’s when analysis, learning and empathy all come together," explained Takeuchi, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science at LIU’s Brooklyn Campus and is senior database web developer in the University’s Department of Information Technology.

The iSeismometer, which has surpassed 1.1 million downloads, uses the iPad’s accelerometer to extract information on seismic data. With the iPad placed on a flat surface and the app launched, even a slight tap sets off a torrent of seismic waves that users can record and upload to a spreadsheet for analysis or transfer as a signal via WiFi in real time. The app is one of thousands with educational value available through Apple's App Store.

Long Island University began distributing iPads to students in the summer of 2010 as part of a strategic initiative to enhance student learning through investments in educational technology. The iPad distribution, currently the largest university deployment in the nation, is expected to reach more than 10,000 students and educators at LIU’s C.W. Post and Brooklyn campuses by December 2011.

The University's investments in the iPads and in providing Takeuchi and members of his team with training to launch the iPad initiative have inspired the development of new apps like the iSeismometer and their use in classroom teaching.

"Since we started distributing the iPad at LIU, it has become the go-to mobile technology device for our students, supporting a wealth of exciting new pedagogical possibilities," said Jeffrey Kane, the University’s vice president for academic affairs. "The iPads continues to soar in popularity on campus and are dramatically transforming how our students communicate and learn."

Originally designed for the iPhone, the iSeismometer evolved from an Earth science classroom discussion between Takeuchi and Dr. Patrick Kennelly, associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at LIU’s C.W. Post Campus. Dr. Kennelly's Geographic Information System (GIS) students have used the iSeismometer in fieldwork, subject to a host of environmental conditions—taking what might once have been a theoretical classroom discussion to a new level of learning.

"Having the ability to use homegrown apps opens up previously unimagined opportunities for student instruction," Dr. Kennelly noted. "Such apps transform the world into our virtual classroom." A segment showing Dr. Kennelly and his students using the iSeismometer on the iPad to simulate earthquake movement has been featured in a popular technology installment for BBC World News.

Takeuchi, who says he wakes up "with a new idea every morning," has collaborated with educators, artists, pharmacists and others across the University to develop 150 apps in just the past three years. Many of them benefit LIU students.

Takeuchi developed My LIU, a cloud-based interface that instantly places campus maps, news, course schedules and personal account information at students' fingertips. Other apps he has created have benefited the University community more broadly. For example, working with Professor Kennelly in his GIS Applications course, Takeuchi created a WiFi intensity map for the C.W. Post Campus that uses the iPad’s built-in GPS receiver and GIS tools to visualize WiFi signal intensity and map areas of strength and weakness. The project is helping network administrators make better investment decisions for WiFi antenna placement on the Campus.

The iPad initiative is just the latest example of the University's ongoing investments in educational technology. In recent years the University has upgraded its high-speed fiber-optic network, introduced blended and online learning programs and implemented industry-leading web learning software, course management systems and web-based student services.

Posted 11/10/2011

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