Students adjust to big changes at Hastings College

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Hastings College students have been in class for a little more than a week now, and are getting use to more than just school schedules.

Hastings College provided all their students with their own iPads for in and out of the classroom. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

The school started a new initiative this fall semester that includes the incorporation of technology into classes, a new academic calendar and curriculum.

All 1,100 students received their own iPads and Apple Pencils to use in and out of the classroom. Students said it's beneficial to them both now and in the future.

"You no longer have to carry textbooks, notebooks, all sorts of different resources. It's all in one package basically," said Tyler Rath, a freshman at Hastings College. "My current proposed major is physics and aerospace engineering. So technology is definitely a major component of my success in that career."

There are 325 new first year students at the college this fall. They all have to complete an Introduction to Hastings College course. Part of it includes some iPad training.

Upper classmen teach the class. Since the iPads are new to all students, it's the first year they've had to incorporate that type of technology into lessons.

On Thursday, freshman completed some exercises to get them acquainted with the iPad's apps, and how they can use them for school.

"The iPad gives everyone an equal opportunity to have the same resources," said Socorro Topete, an engagement coach at Hastings College. "We are all equal here. We all have the same access to anything that we need. Nobody gets left out. Nobody falls through the cracks."

New technology isn't the only change at Hastings College.

The academic calendar has shifted from traditional 16-week long semesters to a seven-week block structure. Students are in a two-week long block now, and will transition into a seven-week block starting August 27.

During the two-week blocks, students take one class. They take one or two classes during the seven-week blocks. Each class is three hours long.

The school's curriculum has also changed, straying away from a traditional major and minor system. Students now have to select a major, a minor not in their academic division and an interdisciplinary emphasis area.

Since every student has their own iPad, the school leases out electronic textbooks that students can use for free.

"We would find out 14 weeks into a 16 week long class that a student didn't have the money to buy a book, and it's difficult to fix that," said Maggie Callahan-Mabus, a director and professor at Hastings College. "The decision to change up the schedule, change up the curriculum and provide students with the things that will remove the obstacles from their path I think is the right decision."

With the new academic schedule and curriculum, students only need 120 credit hours to graduate, but they can take up to 144 over a span of four years.