We live in the age of media.
Whether in college dorms or family living rooms, words like Wi-Fi, Twitter and Facebook seem to roll off our tongues without hesitation.
My father, who is in his mid-50s, and did not know how to use a typewriter in college, told me last week that he had “liked” his friend’s Facebook post. My great uncle, who is in his mid-80s, recently started to read the digital version of The New York Times on his iPhone each morning rather than the print version. It’s beginning to freak me out.
But this phenomenon has spread to our college classrooms as well. Whether we are watching our professor’s PowerPoint slide show, blogging daily to communicate with our classmates or listening to the keyboard clicks of a meticulous note-taking neighbor, media and technology is no longer awkwardly knocking on the door of our lecture halls. Technology is now a part of the educational experience, not alien to it.
This past Wednesday, Apple sent shockwaves throughout the education world after unveiling the highly anticipated iPad. No, Apple CEO Steve Jobs did not just “supersize” your iPhone, but he instead sent a message to publishers and universities: media and technology may soon entirely shape our educational experience.
But while the critics continue to suggest both potential updates to and problems with the new Apple product, there is no doubt that this device could dramatically transform our classes.
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and Penn artist-in-residence Dick Polman, who teaches a political blogging course at Penn, said Apple’s new device has the potential to positively change the way he instructs his course and to create a more dynamic, efficient forum for student debate and interaction.
“It would be wonderfully convenient if everybody was able to pull [our class blog] up on their iPads,” Polman said. “This way, I wouldn’t have to worry about whether the AV equipment was working. And the iPads look to be a lot lighter, and far less bulkier, than conventional laptops. They’re going to make laptops seem like so 2009.”
The iPad will not just impact how we learn in our classrooms. It will change how we approach our academic textbooks or the latest Malcolm Gladwell release. The educational crown jewel of Apple’s announcement last week was the introduction of the iBook store.
With iBooks, the iPad has the ability to make textbooks cheaper for college students, allowing us to rent or buy a classic novel or a large, mass-produced, new edition of a required text — by chapter or by volume.
“For my English classes, where I have to buy 10 books, I could have bought them all on my iPad,” College sophomore Isaac Setton said. “It would have saved me a lot of money, limited the amount of trees that are destroyed and also limited the space that the books take up in my room — and also would have enhanced the reading experience.”
Jobs announced that Apple has already secured contracts with five top publishers and will continue to welcome new partners.
But the iPad is not perfect when it comes to book reading. Jobs did not say that the first edition iPad will have the ability to highlight, annotate or bookmark text like its rival, Amazon’s Kindle, which has caused many critics to question whether this product is worth the money from an educational standpoint.
Still, the potential impact the iPad could have on education is enormous. Apple will continue to update each of its products and there will be a significant update or a new version of the iPad within the year. Bugs will be fixed, and additions will be plentiful. The iPad is contributing to the future of education. The benefits it could bring should not be ignored. We need to embrace change once again. Michael Roberts is a College sophomore from New York. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Roberts Rules appears on alternate Tuesdays.Comments powered by Disqus
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