Will the iPad change Higher Education?
After my initial observation of Apple’s new iPad I do believe it will change how we define a student computer. Here at George Fox University we have a more unique opportunity to represent this since through our Computers Across Curriculum, CAC, (undergrad laptop program) we have defined a student computer for the last 20 years. Generally that definition has been based on various software requirements set forth by our curriculum. But that type of justification was based on applications that resided on the computer that produced output such as documents or spreadsheets held hostage by proprietary formats or feature sets. The iPad can change that. The iPad is not dominated by an operating system or major applications. No it is dominated by user design for the most flexible and effective interaction with the Internet. It is a device that was designed for our computing preferences rather then to determine our computing practice.
I do see our university replacing our CAC laptop computer with this new iPad as our recommended educational computing device. That may mean that we leave some needs on the table, students may need another computer or we may need to reinvest in some public computing. But the resource that we can make available to our students with this iPad probably equates more closely to the computing world they live in. Writing will transition from print to electronic publishing and maybe accounting will be more about teaching spreadsheet concepts and less about teaching Excel. So I’m feeling good about embracing this iPad. I believe higher education will be the benefactor of a much needed change in computing strategy.