iPads for Everyone at Seton Hill University

Jul 28, 2010 12:27pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Natalie Podgorski blogs:
Some college campuses will start seeing fewer students coming to class with a pen and paper — and more carrying iPads.
At Seton Hill University, in Greensburg, Pa., every fulltime student, no matter what year they are, will be receiving an Apple iPad when they return to campus this fall.
The iPad will be used in classrooms to instantly share work with professors. Students will also use it to take notes and replace traditional textbooks with electronic textbooks.
Alycia Ferrett, a junior political science major who will be transferring to Seton Hill in the fall, said, "I'm ready to immerse my mind with learning and having to carry less of a load with books … e-books here we are." Seton Hill students will receive the iPads as part of a new program designed to incorporate more technology into daily campus life.  Each semester students will pay a $500 fee that, in addition to paying for the iPads, provides incoming freshman with a MacBook Pro laptop, and access to wireless Internet anywhere on campus.
At Oklahoma State University, another school planning to integrate the iPad this fall, professors hope the gadget will help students transition into life after college.
“When you look at an educational process, we are at a point where we want to maximize learning potential for students and prepare them the best we can for the professional world,” said Tracey Suter, associate professor of marketing in the Spears School of Business.
Suter is one of two professors at OSU who will lead the iPad pilot program this fall.  The program will involve 125 students in five different courses.  The courses that will be using the iPad have not been publicly announced, students won’t find out if they are getting a free iPad until the first day of class. Suter is excited to see how the iPad’s ability to work in real-time will speed up data collection and summary results for research data.
Bill Handy, visiting assistant professor in the School of Media and Strategic Communications at OSU, will also incorporate the iPad into his students’ classroom routine.  Instead of a typical lecture, students will be able to watch Handy’s prerecorded lectures on their iPad prior to coming to class, so what was formerly lecture time will now be used for class discussions.  Students will also download their books for his class onto the device, a savings Handy guesses will be close to $150.   
“This isn’t about proving that the iPad is awesome.  We want to see if it makes sense to integrate the iPad into the classroom,” said Handy.
Incoming freshmen at George Fox University, in Oregon, will have the option of purchase either an iPad or a MacBook. Greg Smith, the university’s chief information officer, said that close to 10 percent, or 70, incoming freshmen selected the iPad. Smith admitted there are still unknowns as to how beneficial iPads will really be in the classroom.
All the universities we spoke with indicated that their first semester using the iPad in the classroom will be an experiment, but they hope to collect data during the process to see what this technology can do for students' education.
The question remains: will the students use the device to complement their studies, or could it become just another classroom distraction?

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