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Australia Education Handhelds Apple

Melbourne College May Give iPad To Every Student 350

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-a-deal dept.
daria42 writes "It looks like Apple's hyped iPad tablet may find a functional use beyond the early technology adopter set. In Australia, a Melbourne University college recently completed a trial where a limited number of students were given an iPad to aid in their studies. The outcome? The college has now recommended every student be given one of the Apple devices, following in the footsteps of the University of Adelaide, which is handing out iPads to every first year science student. Sure beats lugging around the old textbooks!"
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Melbourne College May Give iPad To Every Student

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  • "Giving"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:05PM (#35402428) Homepage Journal

    Don't you mean "Adding to tuition costs"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SecurityGuy (217807)

      Yes, exactly this. "Giving" means "force to buy", even if they don't need. FTFA, 80% of students recommended this, meaning 20% of those who were given the thing to use don't want it.

      • Re:"Giving"? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sancho (17056) * on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:49PM (#35402706) Homepage

        80% attachment is extremely high for services at a college, at least where I'm from. Students here pay for a gym whether or not they use it (about 35% do), they pay for the student center (don't have numbers on this, but I'd guess that most students don't set foot in it more than once or twice a semester). They pay for organizations that they never join and sometimes never gain any benefit from whatsoever. They pay for upkeep on buildings they never enter. They pay for "free printing" that they probably never use to the fullest (and that they'd likely have gotten cheaper going to Kinko's.) They pay for phone service at outrageously marked up prices, for lab computers they never use because they all have laptops, and for parking lots when fully 25% live on campus and another 15% commute by bicycle or walking.

        People pay a lot for things that they didn't want. The same can be said for taxes in any country with any social services to speak of. 80% is great, and frankly a no-brainer except that you have to wonder how many of that 80% just thought it was cool to get an iPad.

        • by Joce640k (829181) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:01AM (#35402770) Homepage

          It's a shiny gadget*, of course they'll say yes. The fact that 20% said "no" really means that more like 90% would have said no if they were paying for it themselves (and of the 10% who say "yes", 90% of them will be getting a big allowance from rich parents).

          {*} Too shiny in fact. Is it really just me who can't see anything but reflected lights on iPod screens?

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            "Too shiny in fact. Is it really just me who can't see anything but reflected lights on iPod screens?"

            It seems like only yesterday people were complaining about the "low contrast matte" screens that Macs used to sport. For some people it does not matter what Apple does, they will always have an emotional reaction against it.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              "Too shiny in fact. Is it really just me who can't see anything but reflected lights on iPod screens?"

              It seems like only yesterday people were complaining about the "low contrast matte" screens that Macs used to sport. For some people it does not matter what Apple does, they will always have an emotional reaction against it.

              How is not being able to see the fucking screen properly an "emotional reaction"?

          • by Sancho (17056) *

            It's a shiny gadget*, of course they'll say yes. The fact that 20% said "no" really means that more like 90% would have said no if they were paying for it themselves (and of the 10% who say "yes", 90% of them will be getting a big allowance from rich parents).

            I think it depends upon how much of the difference would be made up by the cost of textbooks. Most textbooks are somewhat cheaper in electronic form. Over the course of four years, I bet at least half of the cost could be made up.

            Moreover, I think your estimates are a bit low. Given the number of macs I see on campus every day, there are plenty of people with money to burn.

            There's also convenience--which wouldn't be realized by most of the students if the program were voluntary, but which will likely ben

          • by jo_ham (604554)

            Are you kidding? I would have said yes even if I had to pay a subsidised cost for it, assuming textbooks are available on it - which I have to assume is the primary reason they are giving them to science students.

            My copy of Warren is well over a thousand pages and is a pain in the arse to carry around with me, and the index is pretty poor for a texbook (1%, and poorly written) - having an electronic version of it, along with electronic versions of Atkins, and a couple of other inorganic texts I use all the

          • Is anti-apple zealotry to the point of outright refuting facts and supplanting them with fantasy?

    • Re:"Giving"? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by koreaman (835838) <uman@umanwizard.com> on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:20PM (#35402504)

      Tuition is nominal in Australia, so no, it doesn't. It means most likely that they'll allocate money from something else and/or request more from the government.

      • Re:"Giving"? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thedarknite (1031380) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:55PM (#35402732) Homepage
        The university tuition is nominal. The article is talking about Trinity College, which charges over $20,000 for residency and then has additional charges for such things as network access. (At least when I was resident in a nearby college)
        • Re:"Giving"? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Cimexus (1355033) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:18AM (#35402876)

          Yes I feel that the meaning of the article is getting 'lost in translation' by many Americans reading it. Americans use the word 'college' to refer to the ~entire university~. They say 'I went to college' to indicate that they went to university. This has resulted in many confusing conversations about tertiary education between Americans and other English speakers in my experience (which is extensive as I'm a dual US-Australian citizen and spend a lot of time in both countries).

          In Australia (and the UK and other Commonwealth countries), a 'college' is a ~residential~ institution, typically situated on campus (but perhaps also elsewhere in the city). That is, where the students go to eat and sleep at the end of the day. Many also offer out of hours tuition services and other extra-curricular stuff. They may be indirectly owned by the university itself, or they may be completely private institutions. But they are not 'the university' (i.e. the entity you pay your tuition to). They are separate entities who you pay for food and lodging.

          American students often live in 'the dorms', which fills the same need as colleges but in reality is quite a different experience. As mentioned, colleges are often private, completely separate institutions from the universities themselves. They have various levels of prestige in their own right (Trinity, mentioned in TFA, is a pretty high end one and doesn't come cheap). They aren't merely a place to sleep but are a big part of your university life and experience.

          • Re:"Giving"? (Score:4, Informative)

            by bhat (87057) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:32AM (#35402948)

            A further complication is that the trial involved Foundation Studies students, who are international students who do a ~10 month bridging program taught by Trinity College before attending university, and who don't actually live at Trinity.

          • Unfortunately you are slightly off base as well when it comes to the UK :)

            In the UK 'a college' most commonly refers to an educational establishment that sits roughly between secondary education and university - its not required before you go to university, but it offers courses at levels that usually neither a secondary school nor a university offers (diplomas, HNCs etc). You typically go to college in support of vocational training, apprenticeships and the like, as well as to retake GCSE or A-Level ce
      • Re:"Giving"? (Score:5, Informative)

        by bhat (87057) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:57PM (#35402746)

        Trinity College is a private institution and receives no government funding. But in the case of the trial, the students were indeed given the iPads, but they returned them at the end of the program, and they paid nothing extra in their fees.

        (I may work for Trinity College, but I don't speak for them.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't you mean "Adding to tuition costs"?

      No. Almost all universities in Australia are public and the cost of tuition is heavily government subsidised and is uniform between universities all over the country.

      That's right Americans, we're clearly a bunch of education and sun loving socialists!

      • And this is a perfect example of something that is horribly wrong with your system. Now all of the tax payers get to pay for these iPads, even though many of them won't get used.

        • by Cimexus (1355033)

          No they don't. Firstly, the school would get a set amount from the government. If it wants to spend some of this on iPads, then sure ... but they will have to make savings elsewhere to compensate. They don't just get this unlimited bucket of money from the government. Taxpayers wouldn't pay any more. But this is a moot point regardless, because...

          Secondly the TFA mentions that this university is for FOREIGN students, not Australian residents. I.e. the students are not Australian taxpayers and are paying ful

          • by Cimexus (1355033)

            Slight correction. From TFA:

            "recommended that iPads be rolled out in 2011 to all staff involved in Trinity’s Foundation Studies course, which prepares overseas students for undergraduate university entry.

            In addition, the quartet recommended iPads be rolled out to all staff and students at the college in time for the August 2011 student entry"

            So the initial rollout is just to foreign students, followed by a wider rollout. My bad. Point #1 above still applies though: the university won't be getting any

            • Re:"Giving"? (Score:5, Informative)

              by bhat (87057) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:43AM (#35402988)

              Actually, TFA badly summarises the original report, which was written for an internal audience, and therefore made assumptions about the understanding of Trinity's course structures.
              The trial was for a small group of international students, the Foundation Studies "August Entry 2010" intake. Staff involved in Foundation Studies (and not staff in the rest of the College) will get iPads in 2011. And starting with the "August Entry 2011" intake, all Foundation Studies students (who are international students) will get iPads. There's no government funding involved in any of this.
              There's been no discussion of the mandated use of iPads in the Residential College or Theological School, which are the other two main educational units of Trinity College.

          • Ignoring what's actually happening and focusing on the arguments being presented by people in this thread (since really we are talking about something broader than what's going on at this school):

            About how money will be moved around for this: there will still be money spent on these iPads. If they are able to get rid of other things, why don't they *just* get rid of those things and save a ton of money? That is, unless, they truly honestly believe that these iPads will compensate for what those other things

        • by warrigal (780670)
          Now all of the tax payers get to pay for these iPads, even though many of them won't get used.
          The same applies to nuclear weapons etc. Don't worry. The iPads will eventually be sold. In the mean time the college retains ownership and will probably use them for several years.
  • Reasons? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Adambomb (118938) * on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:19PM (#35402496) Journal

    “iPads are effective, durable, reliable and achieve their educational aims of going further, faster and with more fun,” the college wrote.

    Now there's a line straight from marketing that manages to mean jack shit. Might be this is an Apple subsidized push akin to Microsoft's educational license deals; Get em hooked before they enter the workforce.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I would have thought a kindle would be much better/cheaper/more useful, but what do I know. I obviously don't like shiny screens and brushed metal as much as I ought to.

    • I guarantee this whole thing was spearheaded by an Apple fanboy, or more than one of them. Stuff like this, particularly when it involves a company like Apple that is expensive, happens because of fanboys. A person in the position to make the decision in the university likes the shiny technology and buys in to the hype, and thus pushes it, regardless of actual utility. Since they don't have actual reasons for it, marketing terms are used. It is a case of "I think these are cool and so we should use them eve

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:20PM (#35402506) Homepage

    "It looks like Apple's hyped iPad tablet may find a functional use beyond the early technology adopter set."

    Is it possible to mention Apple or Apple devices on Slashdot without gratuitous and misguided denigration, even if implied?

    The iPad is a perfectly workable tablet device. In fact, it is the cheapest tablet device in its class (quality level, feature set) and also the first to market, and also the one with the largest number of applications and the largest installed user base.

    It clearly has uses beyond the early technology adopter set given the anecdotal array of adoptions in vertically integrative environments/scenarios.

    In my own case, I use it for teaching. The iPad offers a minimal, lightweight platform on which to track attendance, grades, lesson plans, and so on and to connect them to projection devices for showing media of various kinds, from outlines and presentation slides to YouTube videos that supplement the lecture.

    Come on. This is supposed to be a technology blog. Instead, it's a bunch of why teenagers with strong, if ill-informed, political-affective poses.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by aussersterne (212916)

      And of course, more modding down for any post that even offers the whiff of a suggestion that an Apple device might be useful for the slightest waif of a task.

      Wow.

      • by bky1701 (979071)
        No, modding down posts that troll with phrases like "teenagers with strong, if ill-informed, political-affective poses." And I bet you wonder why mac users are disliked...

        Apple isn't being singled out here, precious little macboi. This is just as wrong as universities using closed, Microsoft-owned "standards," something I am sure you have complained about at times. Funneling government/student money into Apple's pocket should be criticized, plain and simple. It has nothing to do with suggesting that Appl
        • "Apple isn't being singled out here, precious little macboi"

          Wow. You complain about the GPs tone of voice and then you post that? Fail.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Please explain how an iPad makes a better text book than, say, a Kindle...

      The iPad costs three or four times as much and has a worse screen and battery life. I assume there must be a really big reason why it's better.

      • textbook form factors, are actually not so differently priced (Kindle DX ~$300, iPad WiFi ~$500) when you consider the differences in capabilities.

        And are you seriously suggesting that the /. crowd of today would behave any differently if the story were about Kindle purchases for students?

        I would be just as critical of the Slashdot response to Kindle, which—if you go back and look—has been very similar to the Slashdot response to iPad, despite both devices' obvious utility and popularity. In fac

      • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Monday March 07, 2011 @12:54AM (#35403040) Homepage Journal

        Please explain how an iPad makes a better text book than, say, a Kindle...

        Interactivity? I have heard great things (not specifically about iPads) about the benefits of increased of student-teacher interactivity and feedback using computer devices. Traditionally in a class a teacher asks a question and one person answers. If everyone has a wireless device then everyone can submit an answer and the teacher can get a much better idea of how well the subject matter is understood and what they need to put more work into.

        An iPad might not exactly be open but there is much more room for innovative and useful education techniques to emerge than with a kindle.

  • hrmmm. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mirix (1649853) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:21PM (#35402512)

    I hope there is an opt out and get a tuition discount option.

    Does apple give kickbacks or bulk rate on things like this? Perhaps an apple holy warrior happens to be in charge.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I was in college when everyone complained about a computer fee. After all, most students had little experience with a computer, and had no understanding what it could do. Few students had computers in high school and not all that many took courses that required a computer. Needless to say I heard a lot of bitching about the fee, and a lot of bitching when jobs could not be found because of lack of computer skills. I was not in that situation since I had access to PDP-11/34 in high school, so I knew how
      • by mirix (1649853)

        I don't have a problem with the school saying we're only doing e-text books. That's fine.

        But they should let people use them how they will. Full blown laptop, ipod, kindle, or go and get them printed off at kinkos, etc.

        I don't like the forced single supplier thing. What if the only way to file taxes next year was with an ipad? Don't worry, the govn't already bought you one. They even appended the $400 for the ipad to your tax form for this year, so you don't have to. Wasn't that nice of them.

  • Ah yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @11:22PM (#35402522) Journal
    It sure does beat lugging around those old textbooks. Unless you fancy being able to mark them up, re-sell them, or refer to them in 2020...

    The professors will probably adore the levels of class participation and attention enabled by everyone having a school-approved internet browsing/PMP device...

    My criticism of this scheme isn't iPad specific(though the education sector often does leap on Apple-related tech crazes); but more general:

    We still don't have something that can replace a notepad and a mechanical pencil when it comes to ease and unobtrusiveness of taking notes(keyboards are faster for straight text, and produce better final copy; but are a bit clicky for class and, unless you are a LaTeX god, slower for equations, diagrams, and similar). Somewhat similarly, your basic dead tree actually works pretty well for textbook-style distribution. Durable, can be marked according to personal preference, can be held onto or resold at will, printing them doesn't actually cost all that much.

    Ebooks have some compelling convenience advantages, particularly for light reading(casually pick up a novel over whispernet, etc.) or for technical reference(grep obscure_command_foo...); but they aren't going to do much about the central complaints with textbooks: Absurd prices and constant version churn(in fact, with DRM, they likely make those worse). Unless this "Hooray! Tablets!!!!" scheme is integrated into some way of actually re-making how the course is taught, I predict no savings, major distraction, and people accustomed to scribbling in marginal notes learning exactly why UI elements in capacitive touchscreen systems are as large as they are...

    On the plus side, Melbourne College's Angry Birds team will be a Division 1 powerhouse....
    • by hedwards (940851)

      At the college level there's a lot they can do. Mandate that any textbooks have an ebook equivalent and that the ebook be available without DRM. The larger the number of books being sold, the more pull a school has.

    • I love the idea of ebooks for university. I think it is an idea who's time has not only come but we are now late on. Have a device (my suggestion would be something more like a Kindle) that automatically can get all the books, all the course notes, etc. Does mean you can't take notes on them, but then nobody is stopping you from using a normal pen and paper, or for that matter smart pens can be used to tie the notes to context, like what page you are on.

      Regardless if done right it would be much easier for s

  • On the bright side this isn't like what Idaho is facing where some unqualified idiot was mistakenly elected and then turns around and drops a plan that his republican cronies support but the rest of the population doesn't that involves firing teachers and replacing them with laptops and online classes.

    Yeah, they want to give the laptops to 9th graders and expect them to survive 4 years.

    And the businesses who would directly benefit by supplying the online classes gave donations to help him get elected.

  • IF buying an iPad were actually a replacement for buying texbooks, then this really would be a good idea. I would gladly pay out of pocket for an iPad if it allowed me to exclusively use ebook versions of my textbooks. In fact, I would even refrain from pirating those ebooks if they were sold for a reasonable price

    In reality though, I doubt it would work that way. Because ebooks are easily pirated, textbook publishers would have a hard time sustaining their racket if universities started switching ove
  • I own an iPad and think it's great, but in order to use one effectively in an environment like a large institution, it needs to be integrated. Textbooks on an iPad? Great... do they have them yet? Does the College have apps written that take the place of, say, campus info guides etc. Until things like that can be addressed, it's not really going to add anything.

  • When I was in Uni (not too long ago) I was swept up by the promise posted on many a form (Linux ones mostly) that in the not-too-distant-future, we'd be living in a technological paradise where open source, open platforms reigned supreme, where proprietary standards and closed systems were the minority. This was going to occur because people wanted and were eventually going to DEMAND openness in their technology, and hence anyone who didn't capitulate would find themselves without market share.

    Goddamnit. We

  • Whatever was the point in making 30 children/young adults/adults write down what someone else had written for an hour per class?

    Surely with internal networks, Applications, podcasts, classes can move past "right, write down all this to kill time"? I hated it when I was in high school, who wants to write for 30 minutes+ straight?

    Why not allow students to copy/save/download/whatever resources to their tablet computers (iPad first of course, but with provisions for any standard format to work), and then
    • by msobkow (48369)

      University is a long time ago for me, but I learned by writing my notes, rewriting them, condensing them, further condensing them, until eventually I got down to 3-4 sheets of paper for a semester's worth of info. It was the very act of thinking about the notes and rewriting them that taught me the material.

      I've no doubt my grades would have suffered if I had been able to get copies of the lecture notes at the push of a button.

      • by dafing (753481)
        Sounds very antiquated, I'd imagine for *most* students, a sort of "learning by rote", never to be revisited.

        Whats the point in just taking up the required time, when students could be *learning* in class? Hence more tests etc, applications could easily handle this, and for all age groups on the same hardware. Multiple choice, answers to be typed in and marked by teachers. Imagine how fast teachers could grade each individual answer if all they needed to do was say "turn in your papers", if necessary
    • For people of all ages, its hard to beat learning on an iPad. Yes, its most noticeable with younger children, who can fall in love with touching their fingers to a screen that reacts, and engages their mind. But its "cool" for teenagers, and very capable.

      I completely disagree. It's easy to wast a bunch of time scrolling around on an iPad, but learning? Sure, it's probably OK for reading and

      I teach engineering. The only real way to learn is by doing. That means doing hard problems on paper. It means doing tr

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