The iPad Gets Ready for College

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The iPad helps connect the bones for medical students. @Stanford U School of Medicine.

At just four months old, the iPad is preparing to go off to college.

Apple’s “magical” device, which launched April 3, will be handed out during fall 2010 orientation to college students at a number of US campuses, though the tablet computer won’t be replacing old-fashioned notebooks or pencils any time soon.

Stanford is the most prestigious university to announce an iPad program so far. All first year medical students and Master of Medicine students will be provided with an iPad.

“The iPad allows students to view and annotate course content electronically, facilitating advance preparation as well as in-class note-taking in a highly portable, sharable and searchable format,” the Stanford University School of Medicine announced on its blog. “Students will be able to easily access high-quality information at any place, at any time…and replacing printed syllabi with PDF’s is in line with the Sustainable Stanford initiative, which aims to build sustainable practices into every aspect of campus life.”

Organize party pics or study? Hmmm.@Gizmodo

A few private institutions opened the hallowed halls of higher learning to the iPad before the device even launched. They include Seton Hill in Pennslyvania, Northwest Tech in Kansas and George Fox University in Oregon.

At George Fox, where incoming students have been handed personal computers along with their orientation packets for the last 20 years, fall 2010 freshmen will be given the choice between an iPad or a MacBook Pro. The cost of the devices are included with tuition.

School officials admit they don’t know how much help an iPad will be for trig or anthropology homework.

“The trend in higher education computing is this concept of mobility, and this fits right in,” Greg Smith,  George Fox University’s chief information officer, said in a press release. “At the same time, we realize there are a number of uncertainties. Will students struggle with a virtual keyboard? Can the iPad do everything students need it to do when it comes to their college education? These are the kinds of questions we really won’t know the answer to until we get started.”

Not all colleges are early adopters. Some, including Princeton, Cornell and George Washington universities preferred to defer admission of the iPad for their students.

Princeton and George Washington have decided to wait over security issues while Cornell allows the device for individual students but has concerns over connectivity and bandwidth. The device also lacks a few other features that college students would find handy, like a USB port and print capability.

Would you like to see an iPad on every desk or do you think it’s not mature enough yet?

Sources: Stanford University School of Medicine

The Wall Street Journal

George Fox University

Mc Cook Daily Gazette

Chronicle of Higher Education