|You may have already seen this but good job for a medievalist and the Optimist looks really good in black. kj|
Colleges Dream of Paperless, iPad-centric Education | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
Clipped from: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/04/ipad-textbooks/
Colleges Dream of Paperless, iPad-centric Education
Three universities are getting pumped to hand out free iPads to students and faculty with hopes that Apple’s tablet will revolutionize education.
Seton Hill University, George Fox University and Abilene Christian University each pre-ordered bundles of iPads — sight unseen — with plans to experiment with how the tablet could change classroom learning. In interviews with Wired.com just prior to the iPad’s launch last week, officials from each university saw the iPad as having potential to render printed textbooks obsolete.
“Those big, heavy textbooks that kids go around with in their backpacks are going to be a thing of the past,” said Mary Ann Gawelek, vice president of academic affairs at Seton Hill, which is giving iPads to its 2,100 students and 300 faculty members beginning this fall. “We think it’s leading to something that’s going to provide a better learning environment for all of our students. We’re hoping that faculty will be able to use more of a variety of textbooks because textbooks will be a little bit less expensive.”
One hitch in the universities’ plans is that Apple has not inked deals with any textbook publishers to bring their offerings to the iPad’s iBooks store. So far Apple and publishers have only formed partnerships around e-books for fiction and nonfiction titles, like those available for the Kindle.
For textbooks, students can currently access about 10,000 e-textbooks through a third-party company called CourseSmart, which includes titles from the five biggest textbook publishers. CourseSmart is a subscription-based service that charges a fee for students to access e-textbooks of their choice for a limited time. The company has already announced an iPad app (demonstrated below).
The iPad may succeed where Amazon’s Kindle DX failed. Amazon released its 9.7-inch Kindle DX e-book reader in 2009, which was aimed squarely at students and the textbook market. Not only did Amazon not penetrate the e-textbook market; it also failed to impress students with Kindle DX pilot programs launched at a handful of universities.
The majority of the 50 students who were part of the pilot program at Princeton said they were not pleased with the Kindle’s slow performance and limited feature set, according to the campus’ newspaper, The Daily Princetonian.
“Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs,” Aaron Horvath, a senior at Princeton, told the school paper last year. “All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.”
The iPad has far greater potential to succeed as an educational device than Amazon’s Kindle DX, said Sarah Rotman, a Forrester analyst. Where the Kindle is sluggish, monochrome and limited in interactivity features, the iPad is fast, sports a colorful touchscreen and supports enough apps to cater to a broad audience of students, she said.
“The Kindle DX is essentially just a big Kindle with not much of the functionality that students need,” Rotman said. “It’s not color, it’s not touch and it doesn’t have faithful pagination, which is a really big deal for students.”
Seton Hill, George Fox and Abilene said that in addition to giving students iPads, they would train teachers to integrate mobile web software and iPad apps into their curricula.
Both George Fox and Abilene have already experimented with programs in which they gave students and teachers free iPhones and iPod Touch devices. George Fox’s iPod Touch program wasn’t the greatest success, because it turned out that the iPod Touch wasn’t the primary device students were bringing to the classroom. However, George Fox believes the iPad’s bigger screen will change that.
“We think the iPad will become the device students carry with them everywhere, and the laptop will become the base station in their dorm room,” said Greg Smith, chief information officer of George Fox University. “The iPad becomes the mobile learning device.”
Wired.com last year reported on the results of Abilene’s iPhone program, in which 2,100 students were equipped with free iPhones. Abilene professors and students said mobile software was improving classroom participation. Web apps enabled students to turn in homework, look up campus maps, watch lecture podcasts and check class schedules and grades.
Bill Rankin, a professor of medieval studies at Abilene, called the iPhone program the “TiVoing of education,” because the iPhone was giving students the information they need, when they want it and wherever they want it. After the success of the pilot program, the iPhone has now become a regular part of Abilene’s course structure.
Rankin views the iPad as the potential sequel to Abilene’s iPhone program. The university has ordered 50 iPads to kick off an iPad pilot program, which Rankin believes will focus on the future of publishing.
“This is really about people re-imagining what books look like — re-imagining something that hasn’t really been re-imagined in about 550 years,” Rankin said.
Already, Abilene is getting started with that idea. Abilene’s campus newspaper, The Optimist, has re-purposed its website and newspaper into an iPad app (below) to launch in the App Store soon.
“We want the students to start thinking about, what’s the best way to present information on the iPad?” said Kenneth Pybus, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, who serves as adviser for The Optimist. “We’re challenging them to design features that would take full advantage of photos and texts and HTML5. There’s an academic component to that — forcing students to think differently about how information is distributed and presented to readers.”