Fresno State’s Joseph Castro touts tablets over textbooks

Fresno State President Joseph Castro wants to put a tablet computer in the hands of all the university’s students, a move he says could save students and the state dollars on costly hard-bound books, The Fresno Bee reports.

Spending $500 on a handheld computer and less on digital textbooks over a four- or five-year college career simply makes more financial sense, Castro said Monday during a meeting with The Bee’s editorial board.

“These are emerging to displace laptops in the not-too-distant future, so they can be used to write papers and be on the Internet,” he said.

But there will be challenges: He said not all textbooks being used by Fresno State professors are tablet-ready. And some traditional textbook publishers say it’s difficult to affordably produce high-quality digital versions.

Even so, Castro says he intends to eventually make tablets a requirement. That would allow the university’s financial aid office to start shelling out monetary awards typically used for textbooks to students who can’t afford to buy a device.

Castro officially started his new job last week and has stayed relatively quiet when asked for specific goals and priorities. He has said he’ll be involved in Fresno State’s coming provost search and that he aims to raise graduation rates.