The Ohio State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Page: 98 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-08619-1
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2019.0051
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
Digital Flagship ( is a new initiative that kicked off at The Ohio State University in late 2017. The initiative is focused on equity and access to technology, development of digital skills for the 21st century, and support for the transition from high school to college and college to career.

There are three main pillars to this initiative:
• Technology: Through this initiative all first year students (11,000+ in the first year of the initiative) have received iPad Pros, Apple Pencils, Smart Keyboards, and access to learning opportunities that build digital skills using iPads and other devices. Outside of Apple itself, this is the largest distribution of iPads at an institution. An additional 16,000+ are projected to receive iPads and training in the next year.
• Coding Curriculum: Coding is the language of the 21st century. Through this initiative students can learn to code without adding time to their degree completion and without additional cost. In addition, a traveling Mobile Design Lab supports the full process of design thinking, coding, and app marketing to help students and faculty take their app ideas to the next level.
• App Development: The first Higher Ed institution to work with Apple Enterprise App Design Lab, Ohio State has developed an app in collaboration with Apple’s top app developers. Through a week-long design process, students and staff traveled to Apple headquarters to analyze the challenges facing first-year students. From that process an app was built and launched in May 2018 to help support new students. The next app project kicks off in January 2019 and will focus on mental health and wellness and suicide prevention.

What We’ve Learned:
• There are no digital natives. Ohio State, as a land grant university, serves the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. The greatest impact of this distribution of technology is felt on our regional campuses in rural areas of the state. What’s more, students do not intuitively know how technology can serve them academically or in support of health and wellness.
• Distributing 11,000 iPads in less than three months, on six campuses, while creating a positive and supportive experience CAN be done.
• Student involvement is perhaps the most critical factor to the success of large university initiatives. Students are the most valuable resources in driving organizational change in Higher Ed. We experimentally built a team of 20+ “student mentors” who ended up being integral to the project’s success and continue to deliver peer to peer support as students build their digital skills.
• New students don’t know what they don’t know and may not be prepared to ask the right questions to get to the help they need. Through collaboration with experiences we can predict their needs and provide resources through the Discover app (developed in collaboration with Apple).
• If you build it, they may not come. The new Mobile Design Lab will provide access to experts and learning opportunities for students to build their skill set around design thinking, app development, and coding. But, how do you encourage students who are already overwhelmed with engagements to see the value of learning to code if it’s not tied to a degree? This is just the question we are exploring through the Mobile Design Lab programming.

Through this session, come explore some of the highs, lows, and observations we’ve made through this high impact initiative.
Apple, access, equity, digital skills, App design, coding, student engagement.