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Iowa's Buena Vista U Rolls Out iPad Pilot

Buena Vista University will be experimenting with Apple iPads during the spring 2011 semester. The university, located in Storm Lake, IA, has about 1,100 students. The iPad pilot program is a part of an ongoing research project to evaluate the use of e-readers to support student learning.

The pilot will take place in four courses representing three of the university's schools: "Human Sexuality," "Fundamentals of Athletic Training," "Introduction to Digital Journalism," and "Business & Professional Communication." Sixty students in these classes will receive iPads in addition to the laptops they already use.

The iPad was chosen for its proven flexibility over other e-readers, according to Matt Morton, director of Information Services. The tablet is being tested mostly for its e-reader functionality, although secondary research questions involve its use as a replacement computer.

Morton said the iPad applications students will work on include CourseSmart from a company of the same name, Amazon Kindle, and Apple's iBooks and Keynote.

"We are committed to developing the best learning technology programs for our students," said Morton. "We feel at this time the iPad represents a shift in technology and information delivery [that] we cannot ignore. We are excited to see the results of this pilot."

At the end of the courses, the students will have the opportunity to purchase the devices at a depreciated amount. The university allows the campus community to check out iPads from its technology center and also hosts regular user meetings to encourage participants to show off interesting apps and uses for their iPads.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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