A few years ago, many items topped a college freshman’s back-to-school and dormitory list: nifty shoe hangers that hang off your closet that hold all your shoes; bed risers to make college twin beds a bit cooler; a micro-fridge because where else were you going to keep that beer, uh, soda; and a Mac or a PC laptop so that you could appropriately IM all your high school buddies at home and, of course, write college essays.
Today’s college freshmen have gone Apple crazy, however, and one coveted item definitely beats out the Keurig – the iPad. So is the iPad ready for freshman year?
Industry experts all over seem unsure of the answer. Some contend that on the surface, the iPad seems like the ideal device for students as it boasts an iWork office suite; an Internet-connected bookstore called iBooks; 160,000 plus applications, many of which are educational; and many platforms for those students with learning disabilities.
Others argue that there are a multitude of reasons that the iPad shouldn’t replace the trusty laptop or simply be introduced to the college campus as an additional item. Among them are the fact that the iPad is expensive; it’s not the best solution for note taking; it’s too distracting; and it’s more of an accessory than a learning tool.
In my opinion, the iPad certainly has the potential to help students grow leaps and bounds when it comes to developing technological savvy and tablet acumen. It also makes the Internet available with the touch of your finger in a way the laptop never has before.
However, there is a fine line that comes with the iPad.
One of the most incredible parts about college (and forgive me for sounding nerdy) is the influx of material that a college coed is introduced to each day. From Shakespeare to human sexuality to psychology to even wine and beer appreciation (hey I had to throw it in there), students are able to delve into more subjects than they ever thought possible.
If you feel your neat new iPad can supplant this wonderful learning experience, then by all means pick it up. If you feel your iPad can help bring physics to life even more; provide you with a better note taking platform; and encourage collaborative learning, then, once again, go purchase the iPad.
However, if your days spent in class will be consumed with you trying to figure out how to get the coolest iPad apps, how to find the latest episode of “True Blood” in high def, and how to Skype, g-chat and IM your friends all at the same time, then you are doing yourself a great disservice in the classroom. When technology gets in the way of learning, that’s when we have reached a real problem. And the iPad comes dangerously close to being too obtrusive in the classroom.