It is time to recapture efficiency and affordability

It has been very interesting discussing our newly announced option to offer the iPad as an alternative to the MacBook that we have given out for our laptop program in recent years to incoming freshman. Overall most people think it is great to offer choice and understand that it may offer a healthy change for higher education. That change may just be that a microcomputer offering Microsoft Office is not necessarily the de-facto standard for a successful college experience. I’m kind of excited about the possibilities. We are making a change to our laptop program because of market conditions, but it may turn out to be a liberation of a far to long stranglehold that has suppressed creativity in the American Higher Education system.

A few faculty members have jumped to conclusions that they will have to change their curriculum since some students may not have Microsoft Office, specifically Word, on the iPad. Say What? At that point I ask a few more questions which clarify that all they really require is that students turn in certain assignments in the common format typically MS Word. I understand that concern, a common format allows a professor to be assured that they can properly grade all assignments. Many have no idea that producing that format is not dependent upon using MS Word. They are still skeptical that Google Docs could actually be an option but when they realize that iWork Pages could be they start to realize that choices for word processing might be a good thing for a student.

Students don’t know that they have options. They use MS Word because we tell them to, but most admit that they don’t care. They do admit that all they need is a program that captures what they type and that spell checking is a good thing. I am not trying to bash MS Word here, I am bashing the suppression of their creativity that has been perpetrated by a belief that a successful career is based on proficiency in using MS Office. Good grief, we educated generations with slate and chalk or paper and pencil. It is time to recapture efficiency and affordability. If later a student discovers that it is important to use a program with format commands embedded inside format commands that link to a suite of applications to produce some incredible masterpiece so be it. But for now let’s just get back to writing and arithmetic with affordable flexibility.

OH yes, this post was seamlessly pasted into Blogger with a direct copy from the iWork Pages program. Just think how important that really is in this emerging world of open Internet publishing.

About ghsmith76

Greg Smith is currently the Interim CIO at Western Washington University. Prior to WWU Greg was the CIO at Missouri S&T, and before that the CIO for George Fox University in Newberg, OR. Greg went to the Northwest from the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology in Indianapolis, IN. where he served as the Director of IT for 8 years. Prior to the IT career in Academia, Greg was a Systems Consultant with Hewlett-Packard primarily with the Analytical Group working out of San Francisco,Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Greg's passion as a CIO in Higher Education comes from his belief that Technology can benefit Teaching & Learning.

Posted on February 23, 2010, in iPad, MacBook. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Will you be creating videos that will demonstrate some of the best practices in the use of the iPad? Videos that demonstrate the various uses and the advantages of using an iPad instead of a laptop would be helpful.

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  2. Jerry – we will definitely be evaluating the iPad since the greatest concern for next year will be when and why we need to recommend the MacBook over the iPad. In fact our faculty are already giving this a lot of thought since they now have to define their minimum computing needs in preparation for helping the incoming students make an informed decision. Before our minimum requirements were dictated by the MacBook that we gave out.

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