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Buena Vista To Go Campuswide with iPad Program

Buena Vista University, which has been piloting an iPad program, has decided to go whole hog starting in fall 2011. Every one of the 1,100 students at the Storm Lake, IA campus will receive an Apple iPad 2 along with a laptop computer. The university said students wouldn't receive any additional charges or pay fees as a result of receiving the iPad.

The institution said that the pilot, begun this spring, has affirmed the iPad's usefulness in the students' academic experience and that they found the devices simple to use and versatile. They also registered higher levels of engagement and found the iPad interface well suited for digital textbooks.

According to David Evans, vice president for academic affairs, "if [the iPad] develops over the next several years on the trajectory that appears most likely, it may eventually replace laptops for most applications on campus."

He noted that by being an early adopter, the university will have an opportunity to help define how iPads are used in higher education. "Apple has an extensive array of educational materials that we will employ as we develop our own materials and hold ongoing development workshops," he said.

Along with device deployment, students will be given the option to use either printed or digital textbooks with their coursework. Another potential application being considered at the campus is for computer science students to learn to program and publish for the iPad platform.

Professors will have discretion in how they choose to use the new technology in their courses. At least one instructor who was involved in the pilot program found that iPad usage helped her students interact with texts, share with each other, and "work creatively."

"These are all important to effective learning, which is really the most important thing," said Jamii Claiborne, assistant professor of media studies. "For students and faculty in media, the iPad means we can gather, create, edit, publish, promote, and then consume what we make--all from one small, mobile device. That's exciting! Students and I have all been searching for relevant apps and telling each other about them. Together, as partners, we're figuring out how to use this new technology effectively."

Another instructor has used the iPad to help students document injuries and treatment in his exercise sciences classes. "From live polling in class to multimedia applications to their ease for use in note taking, the possibilities for how the iPad can help in the classroom are limitless," declared James Day, instructor of exercise science and assistant athletic trainer "They will also be helpful in showing athletes multimedia information on the affected anatomy and possible treatments."

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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