Earlier, we ran a story about the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky (UK) here in Lexington, launching an initiative to put iPads in the hands of students and faculty, with support for an 18-month trial from Apple. The idea is that future diplomats be well versed in current technology.
We reached out to Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh, who is the Director of the school, who told us a bit about the initiative and the apps they'll be using.
"While the iPad as a device is great, there is no doubt that what will be key for us is the vast range of applications that exist today or are currently in development," he tells WebProNews. "Students will be using Pages and Keynote from the beginning for basic report and presentation tasks and we now have them assessing a wide variety of free apps to see which will be most helpful for handling pdfs, notetaking, etc. They will report on their assessments of the utility of these apps on the blog site that is now up and running (iPatt.uky.edu).
"In the area of productivity, they are going to utilize PocketInformant HD and the whole range of applications that Omni has developed for iPad (OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniGraphSketcher)," he continues. "These are amazing applications (I assume you heard there will be a 2.0 version of Pocket Informant in about a month which should make it even better). Graffle and GraphSketcher are invaluable for report preparation -- the diagramming and graphing abilities are amazingly refined and fit well the requirements of our students. Students are also already using Things and Agendas."
"Two apps with direct relevance to the program that all of them will be using are PressReader and Teleprompt+," he says. "PressReader gives the students access to more than 1,700 daily papers on their iPad and we have already explored how to use this app to enhance classroom instruction and the program overall. In the classroom, this will be tied to sharpening student's analytic skills."
"Many of our graduates head for diplomatic assignments with the Foreign Service or analytical positions in the intelligence community," Cavanaugh explains. "They must be able to quickly take current information and generate cogent policy analyses to support top leaders (Secretary of State, DCI, President, or CEOs for that matter). PressReader will enable us to have students examine recent media coverage in a foreign country (from current newspapers across the political spectrum) and produce an assessment of where and how the US might engage on a particular issue."
"This is a typical assignment at an American Embassy overseas, but one that would be impossible to do at a university without access to so wide a range of the foreign press," he says. "Most of our students have already spent time abroad so this also means that we can have a students in the same class do such an assignment -- say examine the political and popular reaction to the recent upheaval in Tunisia -- with one using French language press, another the German, and a third Saudi Arabian (all the while maintaining and improving their foreign language skills). With PressReader, this can truly be done globally. While the best university library might let you explore dated press from France or Italy, PressReader will provide today's news from places as vital as the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China),, but also more remote corners like Iceland, Korea and Argentina. It will also help students prepare for overseas internships. This summer, for example, we have a student headed to Cambodia to do humanitarian work and another to serve as an intern at the US Embassy in Macedonia. Both with use this app and subscription service to prepare for those assignments. Finally, for foreign students, we believe this being able to keep up with the news from their country and perhaps feel a little less detached from home. Already last week, one of our Chinese students noticed that she now can read (in Chinese of course) the newspaper that she read every day before coming to the United States."
"Teleprompt+ is an app that literally converts the iPad into a teleprompter," he says. "We believe this will help our students sharpen their public speaking abilities and, once again, be better able to support principals (President, CEOs) when they are supporting major events. What we have found already in testing is that the app is having an impact on the smoothness and cadence of oral presentations, as well as a greater ability to control time. Time in the diplomatic and corporate world is key. We already instruct our students in how to make "elevator speeches. " We actually put the students on elevators to do it, giving them 18 floors to make their pitch -- a luxury given that the State Department and CIA have only seven floors, the Pentagon five, and the White House for all practical purposes two (the 18 floor ride, with interruptions as it keeps stopping, is actually provides about the same amount of time you would have to brief a Senator on the underground train from the Senate Hart Building to the Capitol). We also believe it may help them write more effectively and succinctly, but we can report more on that later."
The school is the first professional one to undertake a full degree cycle iPad initiative like this, and why this is only a trial, it seems pretty clear that the school is confident in the approach. While Cavanaugh reached out to Apple to get this thing going, Apple does have a whole Education unit, which encourages schools to "extend their classrooms" with Apple products. It will be interesting to see if Google reaches out to schools to encourage similar career-driven use of Android tablets as more come to market. That company is already getting schools to "go Google" with Google Apps.
"The focus of the Patterson School is Diplomacy and International Commerce so this demands a fairly wide set of skills for our graduates," Cavanaugh tells us. "All of our students need to have exceptional communication skills -- oral and written -- and a strong comfort level with not just international politics, but also economics and statistics. Indeed, most of our students take courses in economic statecraft, economic modeling, or agricultural economics. We have just begun to explore which apps will best support those areas of study."
As the school has both Apple and developers at its disposal, the possibilities would seem to be nearly endless.