Despite Some Reservations The Apple IPad Is Still Expected To Succeed In College

August 10, 2010

Bored student behind a stack of booksWith a new school year just around the corner, college students across the country are looking forward to leaving heavy textbooks behind to test drive the new Apple iPad. However, according to the Daily Press, although professors are excited about the ways the iPad can enhance students' learning experiences, they still do not see the device "chasing the printed word out of the classroom anytime soon".

USA Today reported that while some of the previous e-reader and iPad issues--such as highlighting capabilities and network problems--are being or have already been addressed, some students and educational psychologists are not ready to fully endorse the devices for academic use. Some psychologists argued that ever-evolving technology may be making it harder to learn. "The challenge for working in the electronic age is that we have so much access to information but we still have the same brain we always had," said Richard Mayer, psychology professor at the University of California Santa Barbara. "The problem is not access to information. It is integrating that information and making sense out of it."

Furthermore, while many students welcome a new way of learning, they also said that the iPad could be a distraction. "I feel that I comprehend material better in regular textbooks," stated Christopher Paschal, a student at Santa Clara University. He argued that the iPad's easy access to Facebook, YouTube and e-mail makes it harder to concentrate.

USA Today also pointed out that an observational study by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions showed that "when it was time to study, cellphones, laptops and Kindles were put away". "In today's ADD society, textbooks are pleasantly single-dimensional and finite," said Jeff Olson, vice president of research for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.

Other studies over the past decades have shown that even the option to click hyperlinks for related material can decrease comprehension.

Matt Lilek, a part-time computer science major at Joliet Junior College in Illinois, noted that it can be difficult to go back and find information in an e-textbook. "Usually in a novel you're going through it from start to finish. In a textbook you're constantly flipping back and forth. You're all over the book a lot more often," he said.

Another article posted by USA Today, confirmed that most iPad users use the device for more basic needs. Retrevo, a website for tech shoppers, surveyed 7,500 people and found that New York had the most households with at least one iPad (52 percent). Manish Rathi, Retrevo co-founder, said that New Yorkers use public transportation more often, which gives them more time to read digital books, watch videos or catch up on e-mail.

Mashable reported that 55 percent of iPad owners, or would-be owners, saw the device as a "very expensive toy, or luxury item" and 23 percent said they thought the iPad was "the most enjoyable for playing games" again suggesting that the iPad may not yet be fit for higher education.

Nonetheless, expectations for the iPad in a classroom setting remain high, said USA Today. Olson said that even with reservations and other potential glitches in the future, iPads "represent very real potential to remake education for the better". Patrick Douglas Walker, assistant professor of management and business law at Christopher Newport University, told the Daily Press that he thinks old-fashioned textbooks and iPads are "going to have to find ways to work together".

Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff


"An In-Depth Look at How People Are Using the iPad," mashable.com, July 10, 2010, Christina Warren

"Can college students learn as well on iPads, e-books?" USAToday.com, August 10, 2010, Mary Beth Marklein

"Comparing e-readers for back to school," dailypress.com, August 7, 2010, Sam McDonald

"IPad, other high-tech gadget trends differ by region," USAToday.com, August 2, 2010, David Lieberman

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