More Universities Announce iPad Experiments

Each week it seems like a new college is ready to bestow iPads on its students for academic purposes. The latest is Oklahoma State University, which plans to distribute iPads to an estimated 120 students in the fall.

“The goal is to push this tool as hard and as far as we possibly can to really see what the limitations are,” said Bill Handy, visiting associate professor at the university’s School of Media and Strategic Communications.

Mr. Handy, who is overseeing the project along with Tracy Suter, associate professor of marketing, said that iPads will be given to students in two courses at the university’s communications and business schools, along with the faculty members.

“We’re going to be evaluating what we need to do to fully integrate the tool into the classroom,” he said.

Oklahoma State joins several other colleges that have announced plans to distribute iPads to students in the fall.

Seton Hill University and Northwest Kansas Technical College both plan to provide their entire undergraduate populations with iPads (approximately 2,100 and 8,000 students, respectively).

George Fox University, which has given laptops to incoming students for more than 20 years, is offering fall freshmen a choice between an iPad and a MacBook.

Other colleges, such as Duke University and the University of Maryland, will give iPads to students in select programs. Master’s students at the Duke Global Health Institute will experiment with the iPad’s usefulness in field research. Meanwhile, students in Maryland’s Digital Cultures and Creativity living-and-learning program will learn to develop their own applications.

Reed College plans to test the device’s academic value by giving students iPads loaded with course readings. The experiment is similar to one performed with the Kindle, to which students there largely gave a failing grade.

Mr. Handy said that OSU students will be able to keep their iPads after the semester-long experiment, with the expectation that they will integrate the tool into their academic, personal, and professional lives.

 ”It is their device to use however they see fit,” he said.

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