About 450 University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) students will get Apple iPads. The pilot project provides iPads for the entire freshman class in the college and is the largest program if its kind at a major research university. The cost of less than $216,000 is being funded entirely by private donations and will have no bearing on tuition, according to a U of M press release.
The CEHD freshmen will have access to digital textbooks via the iPads. U of M officials hope this will provide the students with significant cost savings. At the University of Minnesota, textbooks average about $1,000 per year for undergraduates, according to the U of M press release.
CEHD faculty, who study academic technologies and postsecondary education, will research how iPad use relates to student retention, engagement, and learning outcomes. A broad spectrum of first-year undergraduate courses in the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning will incorporate the devices.
"We won't simply say, 'Here's an iPad,' and that's the end of it," said David Ernst, director of academic and information technology for CEHD in a Star Tribune article. "It will be part of a coordinated, focused research agenda."
Seton Hill University in New Jersey made headlines last spring when it announced that each full-time undergraduate would get an iPad and a Macbook laptop as part of a bigger technology project. "An iPad for Everyone," its website boasts.
"Mobile technology plays an increasing role in student life and student learning," CEHD Dean Jean Quam said in a U of M statement "CEHD faculty and students are eager to lead the way in exploring the potential of new technologies, like the iPad, in and outside of their classrooms. It's the kind of innovative research that is at the core of what we do in CEHD."
Students will receive their iPads in late October, giving them an opportunity to become familiar with the technology before using the devices regularly in spring semester classes, according to a U of M statement.