iPads in Education May Lead to Greater Corporate Adoption

Ann All
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Factors to consider before deploying the iPad.

I wrote about the growing popularity of Apple's iPad in the enterprise about a month ago, echoing similar items in both the technology press and more mainstream publications like The Wall Street Journal. IT Business Edge contributor Paul Mah also wrote about the iPad's potential for small and mid-sized companies, particularly as an option for employees who need a device simply to access e-mail.


Health care and retail are among the industries showing the most initial interest in the iPad. Universities are jumping on the iPad bandwagon as well, an interesting trend covered in a recent ZDNet article. The article links to a pretty comprehensive Google spreadsheet listing universities with iPad pilots, created by Sybase's Eric Lau.


Education seems like a natural market for the iPad. Traditional textbooks are expensive and heavy, creating both financial and physical burdens for students. Electronic textbooks would help ensure students get access to the most up-to-date educational material. Teachers could distribute syllabi and other materials via the iPad, a much more economically friendly option than paper and one that doesn't require hours of photocopy time.


There are caveats, of course, and the article lists some offered by Gartner analyst Ron Bonig at the Gartner Symposium. Some of the same caveats also apply to the corporate environment, the article notes. Among them:


The latter caveat will become less of an issue as younger instructors and bosses take over, Bonig said at the symposium. Apple seems to be taking a page from the Google playbook. The educational market has been pretty receptive to Google Apps, largely because of its promise to lower costs. It's a safe bet that students who used Apps at school may be more comfortable with them in the workplace than geezers like me who have pretty much always used Microsoft Office at work.


Bonig also notes Apple will face competition from other tablets, a sure-thing bet as IT Business Edge contributor Rob Enderle wrote a few weeks back, mentioning tablet contenders from Research in Motion and HP.


I've got a son in fourth grade, and I certainly won't be surprised if he ends up using an iPad in college or even high school.


IT Business Edge's Carl Weinschenk recently interviewed Julie Smith, vice president of higher education for CDW Government, and Rand Spiwak, executive vice president and CFO for Daytona State College. CDW-G found that students' expectations for technology may become a key recruitment factor for colleges. Many schools currently fall short in use of technology on campus and will need to address this issue. Said Smith:

What we are finding is that colleges may not be ready to meet the expectations of high school students because they will expect a high- technology environment in all aspects of their education, from class registration to class attendance-such as virtual classes-or lecture capture and replay of their assignments or tests.

Daytona State's ambitious digital content program provides an interesting illustration of how students may use mobile devices in the future. Early results from the school's pilot have been "overwhelmingly positive," Spiwak said. The school hopes to go to all-electronic text program at all six of its campuses in the first quarter of 2011. Doing so will lower costs of textbooks by at least 70 percent. Students will be able to take notes and otherwise interact with the text.


Daytona State has even considered students who will still want paper, with plans for walk-up kiosks that will print all or part of the electronic text with highlighting or not, with notes or without. Said Spiwak:

All those things will go on an 8.5- by-11-inch three-hole paper. We hope to do it for a penny a page. A 300- page textbook in physics that costs $200 might cost $25 for the electronic text format and $3 to print.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 16, 2012 8:13 PM torncity Haddon torncity Haddon  says:

Today you can study for a masters public administration online and I don't see why universities shouldn't implement better technology on site. The students who will actually attend classes physically will probably want at least the same opportunities as people who study online from home. We have so much technology at our disposal today, but just a fraction of this technology is being used in the education system. Correct me if I'm wrong about this.


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