The tablet classroom

From On Campus | Macleans.ca 

Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

All incoming first-years enrolled in full-time post-secondary programs at Collège Boréal in Sudbury, Ont will receive iPads for the start of the 2012 school year. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, also in Sudbury, handed out iPads to each student starting in September 2010.

It’s easy to see the appeal. Writing notes by hand is a pain. You have to print lecture slides out ahead of time, transport them, and then (if your penmanship is anything like mine) scribble all over them. That’s why many of us bring laptops.

But laptops have drawbacks too. Unlike a good-old-fashioned spiral bound notebook, you have to worry about the battery life. Tablets like the iPad are—in the words of Hannah Montana—the best of both worlds. They’re small, easy to transport, and have longer-lasting batteries.

For students at Boréal, iPads will also allow direct access to content from the Tembec Resource Centre, which includes over 10,000 digitized documents, plus other educational applications. (Presumably, the ‘educational’ distinction rules out things like the toilet paper rolling app.)

The iPad isn’t just being embraced because of its convenience; the initiative also supports Collège Boréal’s environmental efforts. A semester’s worth of course notes is a lot of paper. If a few more schools embraced the iPad, it could save a small forest.

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