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Why an iPad for students?

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So why should a student bother with an iPad? I teach a course called Digital Media in Business and took a survey of the 27 students in my class. Exactly zero owned an iPad! Needless to say, I was a bit surprised, especially since 26 of the 27 students own laptops (I expect them to bring their laptops to class and use them in building a e-portfolio website using the open source software Joomla!)

There have been discussions across the country about having e-texts on the iPad, so that students don't have to carry heavy textbooks. But I would very much like to see research on whether the iPad experience makes the students any more inclined to read the material than they do now. My experience has been that unless you are having the students tested on the material (or will be called on randomly in class to answer questions, or some other pedagogical hook to force them to read the assignment), undergraduate students do not read the chapters assigned when they are asked to do so. Why should that change just because they are using an iPad? We have all had the experience with our undergraduates of having assigned a chapter or case and fewer than half of the students will have read it.

So why an iPad for students?

Here is one application that might be very useful, though I doubt it will become a 'killer app': an app that record the lecture while taking notes. There are several on the market, and the one I have used is SoundNote. These are similar to the LiveScribe application, the pen that has been on the market for years, but the similar functionality is now available for the iPad interface. I have spoken to a graduate student that is taking a course (not mine) and the professor uses 25-40 slides per lecture (Death by PowerPoint!) The professor makes the slides available before class so students can make hard copies of the slides and make notes on them during class. The student I spoke with lists the slides by number on SoundNote, and when the prof gets to that point in the lecture, he marks the slide on SoundNote. That way, when he reviews his notes on the lecture, if there is any slide that he has questions about, he simply taps the slide number on SoundNote and rehears that portion of the lecture.

So why an iPad for students? Still searching...

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