Whoever said technology is changing the face of education was right, according to California State University, Fresno graphic design professor Rusty Robison. The Selma native is one of 40 faculty members behind President Joseph I. Castro’s Fresno State Tablet Program that launched last week. The program aims to put iPads in the hands of university students and instructors as a way to modernize the current education system.
Castro, Robison and other supporting faculty announced the program on Jan. 13.
“I still have a lot to learn about it, but just the goal of getting tablets into students’ hands, integrating them into their education and lives, just makes sense,” Robison said. “It is intrinsically a wonderful educational tool.”
As one of the 40 Faculty Fellows, Robison was nominated by the university’s dean of arts and humanities, Dr. Vida Samiian, to help develop the program. Robison said being involved in integrating new technology at Fresno State is an incredible opportunity.
“I’m a brand new faculty member, so you can imagine how honored I was when I found out,” she said.
Robison was born in Selma. She graduated from Selma High School in 1993 before pursuing further education in writing and graphic design.
Robison studied journalism and creative writing at Fresno State and Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She then earned her Master of Fine Arts in design and technology from Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. At Parsons, she was part of an elite and influential group of artists that developed courses in audio-visual systems.
This is her first year as an assistant professor at Fresno State, where she teaches courses in interactive multimedia. She said technology is essential for her classes.
“I was in a bit of a tech bubble before coming here,” Robison said. “I naively thought that all students on campus would be as connected with tablets and smart phones as I am, if not more. Reality hit me when I learned that one of my best students didn’t even have a camera on his phone.”
As a part of the Faculty Fellows, Robison will participate in developing the tablet program this spring and undergo intensive summer training with her colleagues.
Beginning in the fall, she and other Faculty Fellows will integrate tablets into their course material. More than a thousand students, from freshmen to graduate students, will be using iPads in their classes.
Robison said the Faculty Fellows is a diverse group of professors who believe in getting tablets in the hands of students.
“I was so pleased to see faculty from all different disciplines on campus,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know more of them, but the ones I do know are very technology-forward and passionate about it, like I am.”
Castro said integrating more advanced technology into college campuses is necessary for student success.
“I’ve been asked many times why I am so interested in introducing tablets,” Castro said in a fresnostatenews.com article. “I explain that I am keenly interested in making sure our students have the tools they need to succeed and that they are well prepared for careers that are become increasingly dependent upon technology.”
He added that elementary, middle and high schools in the state and nation are already using iPads and other tablets in their classes.
“We must be prepared to serve these students well when they arrive at Fresno State,” Castro said.
Robison agreed. She said that in her class, the tablets will be used to store books and create smart phone applications.
“I can’t wait to see the creative things they come up with,” Robison said. “I think they are going to have a much more professional advantage when they graduate and enter the work force.”