University to Provide iPads to All New Students

Seton Hill University will supply a new Apple iPad and a 13″ MacBook laptop to every full-time student arriving at its Greensburg, Pennsylvania, campus in fall 2010.

The giveaway kicks off the small liberal arts university’s Griffin Technology Advantage Program, which aims to cultivate digital literacy among its students. It also marks a growing shift to provide students with e-books rather than textbooks.

Students will have complete access to the devices during classes and for personal use. They can download textbooks from the iBook Store, take notes, communicate and share files with professors, advisers and classmates, conduct research and engage in interactive learning experiences. No word yet on whether the expected profusion of gaming apps for the iPad will be banned during class time.

If one free iPad and MacBook wasn’t a large enough lure for prospective students, Seton Hill has also promised to replace laptops with new ones after two years that students can then take with them when they graduate. The university boasts an on-site IT department trained in Mac repair and will even loan students MacBooks while theirs undergo restoration.

But do students really need both an iPad and a MacBook? Will the graduates of less technologically progressive schools be at a disadvantage without access to these devices?

The potential for iPads as a replacement for text books and mounds of paper-based “readers” is certainly demonstrated by this initiative.
Do students need both?
Well – the iPad isn’t a laptop – and the story doesn’t explain what subjects they’re studying, but you could assume the laptop is used for more extensive computing experiences.
(Hope they don’t ban the games function… if students are playing games in your lectures, then perhaps the question is more about how are you engaging them, as an educator?)