School is starting in late August and already a few universities are touting their decision to make the iPad a part of the classroom, as an important tool in teaching.Institutions such as George Fox University and Seton Hill University will give students an iPad to use this fall semester, according to Wired, in a bid to test the device at the university level — all in the name of cutting-edge technology.
While the iPad has plenty of educational apps for the K-12 set, universities may run into the problem of making the available functions work for the average college student.
- With a limited amount of textbooks available in electronic format, students won’t be able to make the complete switch to the iPad. Class readers can also pose an issue in becoming book-less; unless teachers are willing to switch to digital copies of readings, students will crowd their bookbags with their precious iPad screens and large, bulky textbooks.
- No USB port limits the iPad’s ability to become a useful group tool in class. Transferring files from iPad to iPad heavily relies on email and networking and can cause problems when sharing work files. In a setting where students are sharing iPads, splitting up work to take home can be a pain.
- The issue of printing is another issue students may face; although Steve Jobs says that printing will come soon, the inability to print documents from the iPad keeps it from being a well-rounded classroom tool.
Other limitations include battery life — no matter how good a 10-hour battery is, remembering to charge the device is key — and the lack of multi-tasking, which can be a problem when moving between apps.
The appeal of the device is its interactivity, but depending on a student’s major, the iPad’s usability can be limited. Until the iPad is updated and becomes more classroom-friendly, college students are better off bringing their laptops to school and leaving the iPad in their dorm room for later.