I Dream of Ipad?

Even before its general release, college administrators are seeing the promise of the iPad in the academic setting. Two universities—Abilene Christian University in Texas and George Fox University in Oregon—have already announced they will pilot the iPad on their campuses. ACU began experimenting with iPhones and iPod Touches in the classroom in 2007, while George Fox has offered its incoming students MacBook laptops since 2006. Both schools will offer the iPad in the next school year as an alternative to those devices.

While the iPad shows great potential to be an upgrade from the small screens of the iPod Touches and iPhones issued at ACU, some may consider it a downgrade from the laptops issued at George Fox. Greg Smith, CIO at George Fox, thinks that if the iPad lives up to its promise as an e-reader, the device will eventually replace the school’s laptop program altogether. “We’re ready to rebrand our laptop program into one that emphasizes a device in the classroom that leverages teaching and learning, rather than a device that takes care of all of your college computing needs,” he says. “The iPad appears to be fulfilling that niche,” he adds, acknowledging that his expectations are speculative until he has a chance to work with the iPad (which was not yet released as of press time). “We are an Apple shop, and we are fairly intimate with the Apple technology. We know full well that the multimedia features, the screen, the color, the WiFi—all of those pieces of the puzzle will be there. And just knowing how they’re going to build this device, and the mechanisms like the app store that they’ll have to support it,” he concludes, “we believe it is going to be the e-reader that we’ve been hoping for.”

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