The iPad: A Revolutionary Classroom Tool?

The amount of applications Seton Hill University will receive for their Class of 2014 has likely skyrocketed, all because of iPads.

OK, so that’s probably not true – please, seniors, don’t base your college decisions on some (very sweet) free swag – but Seton Hill certainly upped the ante when they announced they’d be giving all full-time students iPads.

This isn’t exactly a new idea as much as it is a twist on an old one. Some schools have been giving students laptops for years, but the iPad isn’t just a laptop and, in some ways, is a totally brilliant idea for classroom learning and college life.

It’s an opportunity to make class materials less expensive and studying more convenient than even a free laptop does. It’s also a chance to harness new technology to make accessing important information easier for students.

Seton Hill mentions students using their iPad to download their textbooks and take notes in class. Can you imagine if all professors utilized the e-book option, and if all students used the iPad for class notes? No backpacks, no notebooks, no wildly expensive textbooks – just one, simple device you can slip in your purse or gym bag or whatever and go.

The iPad’s file sharing and web devices have the potential to be helpful as well, both within classes and around campus. Schools and professors could even develop applications specific to their university or class. Important news, general information, and so much more could be shared via  an app solely for students.

Maybe the iPad has a real place in learning institutions. Some schoolwork will still require a computer – you can’t type a research paper or edit a video via an iPad – but this is less a computer substitute and more a very helpful classroom tool. There’s no denying Seton Hill has just made things more convenient for its students.

Is a free iPad really necessary? No, not at all. (Then again, is an iPad really necessary for anyone?) But is it a cool experiment? Absolutely. And could it be legitimately useful to college students? Oh yes.

It’s highly unlikely colleges will start handing out or requiring iPads to take the place of notebooks and textbooks, but it will be interesting to see if this trend catches on, and if students individually switch to this format.

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