iPads become reality in Wharton classrooms
February 2, 2011, 2:42 am · Updated February 2, 2011, 12:00 am·
At the Wharton School, iPads will continue to invade classrooms.
This semester, two sections of Masters of Business Administration classes are participating in a Wharton Computing pilot, which gives students free iPads for the duration of a course.
The pilot began last semester when two classes — with both undergraduate students and MBA candidates — participated in the program.
Students who were given iPads were permitted to use them in other courses and in their own time. They also received $25 in iTunes credit to purchase the necessary applications to take notes and annotate readings.
In addition, Wharton Computing also provided iPad users with Bluetooth keyboards.
Although this seems like a costly experiment, the pilot has allowed Wharton to save money on printing costs, Wharton’s Technical Director David Comroe said.
To stay on top of the latest technological trends, Wharton Computing tests out new technologies that it thinks will help students learn and faculty teach, Comroe said.
“It was the natural course to experiment with iPads,” he added.
Wharton professor John Paul MacDuffie, who volunteered to participate in the program this semester, announced the good news to students in his “Strategic Management of Human Assets” class by projecting a picture of an iPad onto the front screen of the classroom.
At first, his students were in disbelief. However, when Information Technology Assistants entered the classroom with iPads, they realized that it was not a joke.
So far, students and faculty alike have embraced the idea of using iPads in the classroom.
Wharton MBA candidate Loucynda Escobar, a student in MacDuffie’s class, said she uses her iPad to download readings, write notes and bookmark certain sections.
“The best part about it is that I don’t have to print out the course pack,” she said. “It’s really nice to be lean like that.”
About 60 percent of the students used their iPads regularly, according to professor Steve Kobrin, who used the iPads in a class last semester.
“People are more likely to bring it to class than a laptop,” he said. “It’s less obtrusive.”
Another advantage to the iPads is an application that developers at Wharton Computing have created that allows students to submit anonymous questions and feedback to their professors during class.
While MacDuffie rarely uses this application in his small, discussion-based class, he imagined it would be useful in a larger lecture.
Other Wharton Computing pilot programs include online learning management systems such as Blackboard and Canvas.
“I’m getting spoiled by having it right now,” Escobar said of the iPad. “I’d definitely recommend it for students.”
Escobar added that she would not be surprised if Wharton Computing extended its iPad pilot program.
“We as a school should be experimenting with new technologies,” Kobrin said, adding that Wharton students are unlikely to complain.