Could the iPad revolutionize education?


Photo Courtesy of apple.com / The Collegian

With hundreds of thousands sold in the first two weeks, iPads have been a big hit in stores. But how will they be received at Fresno State?

Wes Crockett, an information technology consultant for the Henry Madden Library, said it is definitely a possibility that the iPad will be used as an educational tool, but it needs many adjustments first.

“The possibilities are fairly endless in educational use,” Crockett said. “It comes down to if developers go in that direction or not.”

Crockett said the iPad could be a beneficial study tool for students, because it is lightweight and portable. Also, the device makes searching for information much easier.

“You can do searches through the text, rather than going to the index every time,” he said.

However, Crockett said the functionality of the iPad as a study tool depends on the student.

“Every student is going to react to it differently,” Crockett said. “I think it will work for a lot of students, and it will not work for a lot of students.”

Crockett said he still prefers to read books in their print form.

“I’ve always been a fan of having a physical book in front of me,” he said.

Crockett said the library might eventually loan out iPads to students who want digital copies of books if all of the legal issues get worked out. He added that this process would take several years, but he is hopeful.

“I’m curious to see how the institution adopts them,” Crockett said.

Otto Benavides, the technology director for the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, said he is exploring the possibilities the iPad has in education. He said the iPad may provide students with the ability to carry all of the material they need for their classes in one device, rather than having to carry several textbooks.

He said he is also researching the possibility of cutting textbook costs by only requiring students to purchase digital copies of specific chapters that teachers will use, rather than having to buy an entire textbook.

Benavides said the application of the iPad as an educational device will take some time.

“It is something that is not going to happen tomorrow,” Benavides said. “We’re preparing for the future.”

Susan Bartel, the book department manager of the Kennel Bookstore, said there is a definite possibility that the iPad will be used as a textbook reader, but it needs a lot of adjusting. She said students need time to adapt to the digital form.

“My experience with eBooks is that students aren’t really interested in them yet,” Bartel said. “I think students are still more comfortable with a print book.”

She said that once the device is set up for interactive use and the right textbooks are available for purchase, students will begin to shift to digital textbooks.

“It can be really good,” Bartel said. “I think that it will enhance the learning experience.”

Bartel said once the iPad is set up to support textbooks, it could create a change in the textbook industry.

“I think that it could dramatically affect the bookstore,” Bartel said.

Daniel Frank, a first-year master’s student, owns an iPad and said he is very pleased with the device.

“I am really impressed with it,” Frank said. “For the portability it gives you, it can do a lot.”

He said the device is very light and easy to carry to all of his classes.

“It feels like a piece of paper,” Frank said. “I don’t even feel it in my backpack.”

Apple’s iPad only weighs one and a half pounds, has up to 64 gigabytes of memory and 10 hours of battery life.

Frank also owns an iPhone and a MacBook Pro. He said he is very happy with his iPad, but it will never replace his laptop, because the lack of hard drive space limits its usefulness.

“The iPad is going to be less functional in some ways than the MacBook Pro,” Frank said.

However, he said the iPad is a great educational tool, and allows him to learn the way he likes.

“I really am a fan of digital stuff,” Frank said. “I would rather read and write digitally. The iPad makes that possible.”

Frank said he is excited to see what types of programs developers create for the iPad, and hopes that they work to make digital copies of textbooks available for the device. He said digital textbooks would be a great tool for students, because they would have their books and notes in one small package.

“I would jump at the opportunity to buy my textbooks digitally,” Frank said. “I think it will happen someday, but it is going to be a big job.”

Frank said the iPad is very easy to use and works well with the Internet network at Fresno State. He said the device has several applications that can be used for taking notes in class.

Frank said the application Evernote is particularly useful, because it allows users to take photo, audio or text notes. He said the application automatically makes all text and photo notes searchable, so students can type in keywords when looking over their notes.

PadNotes, Frank said, is another useful application for taking notes, because it allows users to type and draw on files.

“If your instructor gives you a worksheet, you can do it digitally,” Frank said.

The built-in digital keyboard takes some getting used to, Frank said, but can be even faster than typing with a regular keyboard, because it has a feature that automatically fixes mistakes.

“You can really fly on these keyboards if you trust the autocorrect feature,” he said. “It really catches a lot of errors.”

Sophomore Addison Balasbas was not enthusiastic about the iPad being used as an educational tool. He said if he were to buy an iPad, he would use it to watch videos and read books, but not for educational purposes.

Balasbas said the device will have a very limited use in an educational setting.

“I don’t think students will really need it,” Balasbas said.

Balasbas was not convinced the iPad would be a durable product. He said the screen of the iPad is likely to crack, because it is not protected or reinforced like a laptop.

“It won’t have as much endurance as a laptop,” Balasbas said. “I don’t want something that will break that easily.”

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