Major University Gives Free iPads to Freshman
Long Island University is giving all incoming freshman free Apple iPads — to keep after graduation — in an effort to help their students learn, succeed and grow with technology. Is this the latest sign of Apple winning more market share on university campuses? Is the iPad really a device that all students need? And does this signal the death of printed textbooks on university campuses? Here’s my perspective.
Brilliant job LIU — you nailed it. No more hefty expensive text books, no more out of print obscure books that get photocopied and bound, no more struggling on Amazon.com for stock. Distribute all your materials via PDF and load them up in iBooks. You’re done. In my senior year at Fordham University as a English major, I saw myself spending an inordinate amount of money on printed books. I averaged 2.5 novels a week through 4 classes. An iPad + teacher distributed PDFs would’ve been a God-send, not to mention incentive to read and break in a fancy new device.
Consider the applications:
- Music students: Sheet music is now neat and tidy, no longer lost.
- Business students: easily respond to e-mails as you view quick, real time stock quotes.
- History buffs? High resolution images and documents are easy to thumb through (who needs microfilm?).
There’s a legitimate application to the iPad for nearly every major.
Still, the iPad has its shortcomings for students, too.
Now, The Challenges
Yes, the iPad’s ability to use a Bluetooth keyboard is paramount to it being a content creation and note-taking device, but there is (and I’ve said this SO many times before) issue of efficiency and ease of use when one has to think about carrying around two devices (the tablet and keyboard) for taking notes, instead of just one device that has everything. That’s also the issue of charging two devices, too.
And as much as the iPad can reduce our dependence on expensive paper books, my netbook became my trusty companion in college. Small in size, weight, and just the right size screen-to-keyboard ratio, the Dell Mini 9 saw more notes than any other laptop in my college career. And, like most ‘regular’ computing devices, there were no file issues. An iPad is locked down to whatever file types Apple will support on it. Likewise, any odd browser-related activities a school web portal might have (gasp, even Flash!) will fail on the iPad.
But the iPad plus a netbook is a killer combo. Why? Replacing printed books is reason enough to invest $499 per student when most spend that much (every semester) on books anyway. LIU is hopefully setting a trend many other colleges can take up, even if they’re not iPads. Just think how much time, money, effort, and heck — trees could be saved at the University Bookstore?
If the mad dash to reserve books and wait on line at the book store was replaced with “download at your leisure,” I think everyone would be happy.