The iPad's place in the classroom is getting mixed reviews from several colleges participating in programs to distribute Apple's handheld, electronic tablet to students this fall.
Students quoted in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article (9/20/10) were generally encouraging and said they liked the iPad for note taking, web surfing and organizing information. The chief information officer at Oregon's George Fox University said some students still prefer using pens and notebooks because the iPad has limited storage space and the device cannot multitask and print.
A history professor at George Fox was quoted as saying it was difficult to "meld iPads into the curriculum because only a small subset of students has the device."
George Fox University has given laptops to incoming students for more than 20 years. This fall students chose between an iPad and a MacBook and 67 students--10 percent of the freshman class--opted for iPads over MacBooks.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports Duke University gave iPads to students in the school's Global Health Institute to experiment with how the device performs in the field. The University of Maryland gave iPads to students in its Digital Cultures and Creativity Living and Learning Program. The University wants students to learn to develop their own applications.
Indiana University formed a 24-member focus group to evaluate iPad-driven teaching strategies. The group of faculty members began meeting in this September and are due to write a preliminary report by January.
It is still too early to accurately gauge the future of iPads in academic institutions. A recent report from Reuters said, "A walk around the typical college campus turns up a few iPads, but still nothing compared to the number of laptop computers that students carry around the quad."
Reuters outlined how the future of e-textbooks could be the key to the iPad's success in the classroom. According to the Reuter's article, "One common complaint of students who buy e-textbooks is that, in class their professors will say 'turn to page 92' and that anyone using an iPad to read that text will have trouble finding the passage because of the lack of page numbers on digital versions of the textbooks."
University of Minnesota graduate student Michael Reis has owned an iPad for four months and says he's very happy with how it performs in the classroom.
"It's great for taking notes. You don't have to find an outlet like you do for a laptop. The iPad has a long battery life. It is also good for reading PDFs so you don't have to keep printing articles. It has some limitations but it is really easy to carry around on campus," Reis said.