U to provide free iPads for research

CEHD plans to provide iPads to its entire first-year class this fall.

Ashley Bray

Approximately 450 University of Minnesota students will receive Apple iPads at the end of October as a part of a major research project.

The College of Education and Human Development will be handing out the popular tablet computers to its entire first-year class in an attempt to answer questions that relate to education research and technology, David Ernst, director of academic and information technology for CEHD, said.

Instructors that signed onto the project received their iPads last Thursday and are in the process of meeting and developing specific questions, he said.

Researchers will try to find out how the use of iPads relates to things like retention motivation and student learning outcomes.

The iPads will remain property of the college while students are using them.

“Assuming this is going to be a success, they will be able to retain them for their entire career here,” Ernst said.

While the policy hasnâÄôt yet been solidified, the hope is that students will simply return their iPads to CEHD upon graduation.

One appealing aspect of giving iPads to students is that it may reduce expenses. iPads are known for their reading functionality. Students will be able to download textbooks rather than buy them in print, a press release from CEHD stated.

“I am confident that this could even be a large cost savings measure for students, and thatâÄôs kind of exciting for me because I know what kind of
pressure students are under financially,” Ernst said.

Instructors, who are not mandated to make use of iPads in their classes, are motivated to make use of iPads so that they are tools for education rather than distractions in the classroom.

The Office of Information Technology will also be playing a major role in the implementation of iPads to students. OIT will provide help with research in teaching and learning technology, wireless coverage in classrooms and will be ready to answer any questions the students may have, Ernst said.