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St. Bonaventure University

SBU’s School of Health Professions on path to becoming Apple Distinguished School ​

Jun 16, 2021

Connie Perkins, Erin Lundeen, Suzanne Soltysik, Joe Pellerito and Karen Weis
Faculty in St. Bonaventure University’s School of Health Professions are convinced that Apples in their classrooms will do nothing but improve the health of their classrooms and labs.

Instructors in the nursing and occupational therapy programs earned Apple Teacher Certification this spring as part of their commitment to utilize Apple iPads to enhance the learning experience for their students. It’s part of the programs’ iBona initiative, which will provide iPads to incoming OT students beginning this fall.

“Our goal is to put this technology in the hands of the students and have them own it,” said Dr. Connie Perkins, founding director of St. Bonaventure’s nursing programs. “We don't want them to just use it while they’re here; we want this tool to transcend into practice. We want our students to walk into the clinical arena with this in their hand and use it in an efficient and effective way to educate their patients.”

Each letter in iBona stands for elements in the process that will ultimately lead to the “a” — applying for Apple Distinguished School designation.

The first step was “i” — faculty receiving iPads from Apple; faculty inquiry and review of Apple’s learning tools; and interdisciplinary meetings for faculty to collaborate and share lessons learned.

The “B” stands for faculty earning their badges and changing their behaviors about developing curriculum with the use of Apple products. The “o” is for orientation for new faculty and students, and occupational therapy, which brings in its first cohort of students this fall. The “n” stands for nursing and nurturing — evaluating, by the end of spring 2022, the first year of the initiative and developing additional measures to evaluate goals.

Dr. Joseph Pellerito Jr., founding director of the occupational therapy program, said the benefit of the program isn’t limited to the vast array of Apple applications available to dramatically enhance student learning.

“What shouldn’t be overlooked is that this initiative has served as a catalyst to bring our (nursing and OT) departments together, allowing us to work together collaboratively to strengthen our interdisciplinary relationships,” Pellerito said.

The iBona initiative has three primary goals:

  • Learning goal: Enable students to build technological habits that transcend into their practice while expecting a streamlined learning experience.
  • Teaching goal: Empower faculty to role model technology use in the classroom, enhance efficiency in classroom preparation, and embrace inclusivity via accessibility.
  • Community goal: Produce providers who are technologically savvy, efficient and focused on the future.

Measuring the effectiveness and benefits of the initiative after a year is vital, Pellerito said.

“We want to show, both quantitatively and qualitatively, that our hypothesis is true and that this is going to be really beneficial to both students and faculty,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of migrating to an iPad-based learning platform is the transition from paper to program-based information gathering.

“By having this tool now,” Perkins said, “we’re going to transform the paper skills list many schools still use entirely to the programs on the iPad. It will also give students the opportunity to reflect immediately after class, perhaps over lunch, on what they learned that day, on what went well and what didn’t.”

Alignment with a corporation as influential as Apple certainly can’t hurt enrollment, but it’s more than just brand recognition, Pellerito said.

“Education has been part of Apple’s DNA since it first started producing computers,” he said. “No question it’s an enrollment driver, but more importantly, this is about optimizing teaching for our instructors and learning for our students.”


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2020, St. Bonaventure was named the #2 regional university value in New York and #3 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.