With a large touch screen that can display electronic texts in color, Apple’s iPad was greeted with huge enthusiasm by many ed-tech advocates when it debuted earlier this year. The device also inspired a host of competitors and sparked an eReader price war as it threatened to shake up the eBook market.
“I think this changes the picture for eBooks considerably,” said Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, after Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in January. “This has a lot of potential for higher education. … [Apple] has really seemed to think through the book experience.”
Johnson’s remarks were prophetic, as the iPad has had a huge impact on ed tech in just its first year of existence. Seton Hill University was among the many schools to give iPads to incoming students this fall, and Abilene Christian University made its students newspaper available for iPads. The device has even changed medical school, where first-year med students at Stanford University are finding several ways to use the iPad to help them learn.
Not everything has gone smoothly, as technology officials at a handful of universities warned that the iPad might not be compatible with school networks or could overwhelm campus bandwidth capabilities. Others expressed concerns about the iPad’s inability to print—a deficiency that Apple resolved in November with a new operating system for the device.
Despite the iPad’s promise as a multifunction eReader device, college students are still tepid about the use of eBooks for school, a new survey suggests: Just one in 10 college students said they have bought an electronic book in the past three months.