Top 5 University iPad initiatives

So I played devil’s advocate, while the rest of the learning world appreciated the leap forward with the Apple iPad. Having carefully evaluated the bad and the ugly (thanks to everyone on Linkedin/this blog who shared), there is definitely a need to look at everything good that’s coming out of the tablet industry, of relevance to the learning community.

A market-ready foolproof device the iPad still is not, but there are plenty of interesting ways it may be leveraged for learning at the workplace / university (or actually, outside of those places). In this post, I want to the cover the actual implementations being made by educators (I’ll cover corporate initiatives in my next post).  A great example is Rutgers University’s iPad marketing course that I blogged about earlier. There’s a lot of talk of how the iPad is a game changer, but how many universities are putting their money where their mouths are, and investing right away?

Here’s 5 university initiatives worth mentioning.

  1. We all heard about Seton Hill University, George Fox University and Abilene Christian University shelling out big bucks to give out free iPads to all new students. While this illustrates their incredible confidence in Apple, it doesn’t tell us how their students plan to use it, or what the universities have up their sleeves. What will work in their favour is the uniformity in terms of device make, if/when they push out any mobile learning initiatives.
  2. In contrast, Oklahoma State University is taking a more calculated (and sensible, IMHO) approach to tackling this unknown mobile monster… they’ve launched a pilot that’s going to track any reduced textbook costs (if at all) and learning activity of its 125 pilot students. They’re also looking for ways to incorporate the iPad’s web/app based tools into classroom learning.
  3. Loyola University’s English Dept. has designed a new course for the iPad, in alignment with its Film and Digital Media focus. The success of this ‘practice run’ class will decide its future in the next academic year. What’s interesting here is that while the iPads were acquired through grants and donations, the students are allowed to keep them, since they need to purchase the ebooks themselves.
  4. Binghamton University has introduced a new iPhone/iPad app that helps its community stay updated with all kinds of campus news, notifications, and events. Although, this isn’t exactly a learning initiative, more to do with campus communications.
  5. Duke University is also joining in on the iPad pilots, through Duke Global Health Institute’s ‘Research Methods in Global Health Sciences II’ course. This would form a part of the institute’s Master of Science in Global Health degree program. The iPads will enable students to explore various research techniques by exploiting its small form factor, Wifi and 3G capabilities, long battery life and lightweight design.

Lastly, I’d like to bring to your attention the foray made by CourseSmart, into the iPad textbook game. The provider is now offering over 10,000 textbooks (including those from the 5 biggest textbook publishers) through an iPad app that allows it to bypass the dreaded iBooks mire. I’d watch out for this one.

So the overlying theme I see here, is that there are only a handful of universities across the world that are giving  the iPad the attention it demands. And it looks like even these institutions are starting small, treading cautiously into the mobile computing-led learning future…

Do you know of other universities that have followed iSuit with Apple’s latest gift to mankind? Or know of innovative ways in which universities could? Please do share…

Binghamton UniversityB

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