The iPad as a Study-Buddy
While paper textbooks are still the norm, more and more iPads are making their way into the classroom. With the ability to download books, take notes and access the Internet with a compact digital device, students no longer need to lug around heavy bookbags. However, iPads do lack some basic student comforts and, while trendy, using one successfully is a learned skill. As a result, it will take some time before they replace traditional practices.
By Sara Weiner, RTCRM
iPads have seen increased usage in the classroom. They offer functionality, portability and “compact-ability,” making them ideal replacements for traditional textbooks and notebooks. Their ability to access the Internet provides information and resources in real time, which students otherwise don’t have in the classroom. As a current graduate student, I have been surprised by the number of iPads I have seen floating around my classes (both because they are expensive, but also because their value hasn’t been proven). As a result, I have been unsure of their logistical application and fundamental ability to usurp traditional text and notebooks. While it’s nice to have access to the Internet, and I love not having to lug around books — highlighting and taking proper notes is cumbersome, if not undoable.
The University of Notre Dame (UND) had similar thoughts — in December 2010 it released a study regarding a group of students who were given iPads and asked to evaluate their functionality. They discovered that on the positive end, an iPad “encourages exploration of additional course topics, helps manage time, provides new functions/tools, increases learning, and makes courses more interesting.”1
However, UND also found negatives that align with my own experiences, such as difficulty in taking notes and highlighting. Additionally, they concluded that the cost (approx $400+) is the most prohibitive element of owning an iPad, and while the majority of students expressed frustration with the current applications, many were hopeful for future iterations and updates. Implications and Action items
While iPads are expensive, and certain features are less than perfect, they offer an advantage over traditional materials. However, it’s important to understand that they are not as intuitive as the Apple ads let on. If you want to try out an iPad in the classroom, there are some things to be aware of in order to maximize your studies:
1 University of Notre Dame (2010), http://tiny.cc/ggax6
- Accessorize, accessorize. While your iPad holds all its functionality internally, typing and highlighting in documents is tough. Additional attachments such as a keyboard and easel (or a cover with built-in stand) will allow you to use your iPad more comfortably and quickly.
- Download apps. Apps such as Kindle, myHomework and Evernote will allow you to manage your homework and classes more easily. Be aware that Flash won’t work and certain PDF Web applications may not show the entire text.
- Practice makes perfect. Getting used to the iPad takes time, so don’t try it for the first time right before a big test. Practice reading, highlighting, saving and typing until you are comfortable with the touch screen or your acccessories.