iPad Feedback from Our Students

A difficult semester has ended, one in which our focus has been for support of a close colleague in his fight against cancer. I haven’t had the same motivation to post because of this.

I do owe the blog a summary of feedback that we have acquired from our students that chose an iPad rather then a MacBook this year. This feedback is unique in that it comes from a selection of students that have voluntarily chosen to satisfy some of there college computing needs with an iPad. My references to our survey represents 1/3 of the 67 iPad students and we enlisted others to give us direct feedback thanks to significant bribes. Overall this group of 67 students with iPads has really blended into the population. My overall impression is that they all feel very fortunate to have an iPad but treat it as a luxury supplement to their computing needs.

These students all seem to understand the positioning of the iPad vs. their computer and they seemed technologically comfortable with their iPad, although I was surprised that they were not more inquisitive about all that it could do. They typically only had a small number of apps that they had loaded. I would have expected them to be more exploratory especially with free apps.

Survey feedback seemed to suggest that most the students considered their iPads as an academic tool however, there were some that valued it primarily for entertainment. Note taking was the most prominent classroom usage and they were excited to compare what they were using. The note taking apps that could also audio record caught everyone’s attention.

We gave each student $30 in iTunes gift cards earmarked for them to buy iWorks so I was interested if they ended up spending any of their own money. Only a third of them did and I think this related more to lack of awareness of entertainment options. I was surprised that most had not discovered NetFlix.

We specifically asked them about their use of E-Books and their responses not only confirmed limited E-Book activity but outlined their dissatisfaction with PDF versions. I was surprised that they also preferred the iBook reader vs the Kindle, and it was about presentation and ease of use. There justification for the use of E-Books was to reduce weight in their backpacks. Overall they were very disappointed that they had not been able to utilize iPad enhanced E-Textbooks.

We received confirmation that there really haven’t been any service issues with the iPad. WiFi was always straightforward for the students and we haven’t had any service tickets for the iPads in IT. We did get a number of extensive responses to the question: “Do you think an iPad is all that is needed to take care of your college computing needs?”. Overwhelmingly the answer was no, listing all of the typical issues revolving around the obvious limitations with printing, writing and Web media restrictions. The laptop is still alive and well which I can validate by my preference for using my Air over my iPad.

I do think pad style computers will be able to accommodate college computing needs, but I am not sure it will be a priority for the iPad. The iPad is a useful technology supplement for the college learner, unfortunately it is a luxury that many will not be able to justify.

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 December 19, 2010, in E-Textbooks, iPad. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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