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This year’s release of the iPad caused a great stir not only in the technology world, but in the academic world as well. The iPad has the potential to act as a great learning tool for both students and faculty due to its lightweight and small structure and its ability to store, download, and create material. To study its affects on the academic community, the Center for Instruction & Technology picked 40 faculty members out of the original 120 who applied to receive an iPad to use in the classroom. They were given the iPads this past May so that they could become familiar with them over the summer. The 40 faculty members were then broken up into 3 groups who meet monthly to share how they’ve been using it, present on various topics and techniques they’ve been using, and discuss how the they intend to incorporate it into their teaching.

USF has discovered many things from this study. One such discovery is that the iPad (or at least in its first generation) is a great way to receive content but not the best for creating content. With downloadable textbooks, classic literature, the ability to download or view documents, and over 40,000 applications, the iPad has proved itself a tool with infinite possibility both inside and outside the classroom. However, to create documents (PowerPoint, Word, Excel, etc.), most of the faculty agree that while it is possible to use the iPad, it is best to use a traditional computer.

The applications have proved to be one of the largest benefits to the iPad. Teachers find them useful in varying and unique ways depending on their department. In addition, the publishing industry has already made some textbooks available to download but there is still a ways to go before a majority of texts are downloadable. Those that are available range from 10%-50% cheaper than if you were to buy them in a bookstore, with new downloadable textbooks being made available all the time.

The iPad has a 10-hour battery life as well 3G standards and wireless capabilities. It is a multi-purpose device and can work as a network, e-mail client, and internet source. The iPad is the first successful and popular tablet.

The study will wrap-up this month in concurrence with the end of the semester. A report will be issued early next year for the university leadership to review. While there have been questions about how exactly the iPad will fit into future academic environments, the response has been mostly positive from both faculty and their students. To learn more or read the findings from the study, visit the iPad wiki page at http://ipad.wiki.usfca.edu/.

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