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iPads On American Campuses? Maybe Next Year 177

Posted by timothy
from the please-don't-overcommit dept.
Velcroman1 writes "Slashdotters have read extensively about the iPad pilot programs at colleges and universities: Australian schools are iPad crazy, we read yesterday, and thanks to the iPad's success, 2011 will be the year of the tablet. But on US college campuses almost half a year after the iPad's launch, it's a whole different story — at least so far this year. FoxNews.com reports that high-profile schools like Duke and Stanford are far more cautious about the device than has previously been reported. 'It definitely facilitates studying and recall because you don't get bogged down by all the paper,' noted first-year Stanford med student Ryan Flynn. But it's still a work in progress. 'The iPad isn't the best input device. Some people have gone back to paper and pencil.'"
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iPads On American Campuses? Maybe Next Year

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  • Re:Budget (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @02:37PM (#33678470)

    College students on a budget would also have a hard time justifying the cost of a laptop or high-end netbook ...

    Um, the cost of a "high-end netbook" is about what you pay for books each semester now.

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @02:52PM (#33678664)

    http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/January/10-crt-030.html [justice.gov]

    "WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced separate agreements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Pace University in New York City and Reed College in Portland, Ore., regarding the use in a classroom setting of the electronic book reader, the Kindle DX, a hand-held technological device that simulates the experience of reading a book.

    Under the agreements reached today, the universities generally will not purchase, recommend or promote use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader, unless the devices are fully accessible to students who are blind and have low vision. The universities agree that if they use dedicated electronic book readers, they will ensure that students with vision disabilities are able to access and acquire the same materials and information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use. The agreements that the Justice Department reached with these universities extend beyond the Kindle DX to any dedicated electronic reading device."

  • by pshumate (1004477) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @02:53PM (#33678674) Homepage
    I've been tasked with writing a feasibility report on using the iPad in the college classroom. For reference, we're a small college (1,300 students). I think the biggest disadvantages are a.)the inability to easily incorporate figures into your typed notes; b.)the lack of wireless printing; and c.)the relative scarcity of e-textbooks. Not having a USB port doesn't bother me, nor does the lack of USB. As of right now, the iPad is more secure in terms of malware and viruses (though I am willing to be wrong, and told I'm wrong, on this point). The fact is, most students don't care about network or personal computer security past making sure their machine works and doesn't get stolen. Removing the USB port removes a virus vector that's been particularly nasty on our campus. Making sure the students get just the apps they need helps the faculty in that the iPad, when used in class, won't be bogged down with distractions. Now, there are a slew of other issues that must be considered (the students are allowed to buy other apps, music and such, will half of these end up in pawn shops in a week, do we have the capability to handle that many wireless connections at once), but there are a lot of advantages to the device.
  • Palm + Keyboard (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrYak (748999) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @03:11PM (#33678840) Homepage

    One guy had a Palm and a fold-up keyboard. I thought of getting this but I couldn't justify the expense.

    Got through both my studies in Medicine and in Bioinformatics using such setups.
    It really, really helped me because, unlike plain paper, Memos on Palm are searchable.

    I could write a lot faster on a laptop, but I realized that having page after page of class notes was not really helpful anyway. Without the laptop and all the distractions it brought, I could focus better in class.

    Well it all depends on how you take notes : if you're the "write down absolutely everything down", "hands directly wired to the ears, skipping the brain" type of notes, a laptop, a Palm or whatever won't help much more than a voice recorder sitting and recording passively the lecture.

    If you take notes, i.e.: take time to digest the content of the lecture, extract key points and write down a few keyword a few sentences that you reworded to your liking, to help you remember the most important stuff - then no matter the support, notes are going to be much more helpful.
    Paper notepads helped you because, apparently, you don't scribble as fast as you type. And thus you *have* to write down a condensed version of the lecture material, and thus have you brain active during the process.
    Myself, I got used to re-word what's being said from secondary level, and the move to Palm for university wasn't much a change. Except perhaps that quickly drawing figures isn't that easy on a Palm and therefor I had to do even more reprocessing of the information before writing it.

    I don't see how medical school would differ from law school in this regard.

    There's a huge amount of available applications for PDAs, some dating back as far as the Palm era, with lots of useful information for med students : Drugs databases like "Epocrates", or e-books like "5min Clinical Consults". Carrying arround said information in paper form would require much more pocket space than available on the average trouser.
    Also, I don't know how lectures are organised in your law faculty, but the problem-oriented teaching in our med faculty made rather useful to be able to perform a quick keyword search to exatract some notes you took one and a half year ago at another lecture or while reading scientific literature.

    Not everyone around me back in med school was doing note-taking directly on the palm as I did, but none the less, lots of them used palm to carry around reference material in a practical form factor.

  • Re:Budget (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 23, 2010 @03:20PM (#33678970)

    No Flash, which imposes a restriction on quite a few websites that utilize it.

    Crippled ability to print anything -- you can buy the $30 Apple Camera Adapter to get some USB support, and/or simply email whatever you need to print to a computer, but what a pain.

    Limited ability to copy files to and from an iPad -- media files, the limited number Apple sanctions can be transferred via iTunes. VLC has surprisingly been allowed into the tightly-controlled iOS app world but since there's no USB ports, no ethernet, and no user accessible file structure to even copy files back and forth you're limited to Apple approved apps for everything. Want to transfer a .doc file? Well you need to buy iWorks to work with it. There's no home directory, no 'My Documents', nothing except Apple apps to manipulate files.

    iPads are touted as being great ebook viewers (and they actually are). But in the matter of reading a book on your iPad and also composing a paper means being able to have at least two apps open, something to view with and something to write with (well, at least three because a web browser is almost invaluable now). Being able to switch between them or view both side by side on a computer, that's not a problem, on an iPad that's another matter.

    Usage of Skype means you need a webcam. Most laptops have them built in now, and even on a computer without one you can buy a USB external webcam. Remember, no USB on an iPad (outside of the adapter kit option, which gives you limited USB options).

    iPads have a lot of pluses like the interface, battery life, instant-on, etc. but there are a lot of limitations too.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @03:24PM (#33679024)
    You know, the "writing on the wall," if referring to the Biblical event, was a bad thing, not a good thing. It was doom for the current ruling empire. :)
  • Already Happened (Score:2, Informative)

    by tj111 (1275078) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @03:32PM (#33679140)
    My brother is a freshmen at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and all students there were given iPads as part of their enrollment (price included in tuition). As to how much it's used in the classroom, who knows, I haven't talked to him much since he got there.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @03:44PM (#33679300)

    As of right now, the iPad is more secure in terms of malware and viruses

    It's no more secure than Linux or MacOS.

    It's no more secure than Linux or OS X (both of which are fairly secure) except it has to be those OS's being run in a specialized environment where security policies forbid unsigned and un-sandboxed end user applications and all applications have some vetting process. Since that eliminates 99% of all installations of either OS, I'm going to have to disagree with you and say the iPad is more secure than most desktop Linux or OS X installs in use today.

    The problem with the PC approach is Microsoft software, not the PC approach.

    I don't know what you mean by "the PC approach" but locked down distribution of applications has been used by many organizations worried about security. It can be done in a way that is less restrictive than Apple's approach while still providing the same level of security, but so far no one has stepped up and implemented such a system on a mainstream consumer offering.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @03:46PM (#33679334)

    What if you somehow took notes or something and want to put it on another computer? A USB port is rather useful for that sort of thing... basically, any attempt to move data off your iPad to work with it on another platform, how does that work?

    Why would you use USB for that? You have your wireless internet connection. Even for PC's you can use wireless or ethernet to transfer data more efficiently. And if you don't, Firewire is a crap-ton faster than USB for moving data.

  • by FullBandwidth (1445095) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @04:35PM (#33679962)
    Accessibility accommodations for all those materials are well known and currently in use. Try running a touch-screen device with a blindfold on sometime.
  • Re:Budget (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @05:25PM (#33680580)
    The problem here is that you're assuming that the university is going to buy these for their students and not the students buying them themselves. (The only way there could be any reasonable back end is if the university builds it).

    But let's assume you're correct and do the math.

    Using laptops, you're out:
    1. Cost of software licensing
    2. Cost of laptops.

    With ipads, you're out:
    1. Cost of ipads (equivalent to that of a decent laptop)
    2. Cost of software licensing
    3. COST OF THE ENTIRE FUCKING BACKEND

    You can't just use the current hardware, you have to build a huge new system just for the ipads (unless you happen to have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of unused server hardware lying around).

    Simply put, the ipad is a terrible waste of money.

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