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Sunday, September 21, 2014 | Last updated: 1:11pm

iPads should be replaced with more practical items



Around 4,000 incoming freshmen received an Apple iPad this fall as part of their merit scholarship. Although it’s commendable that the UA is trying to embrace new technology to enhance the learning environment, the iPad fails to provide students with a practical tool for school.

“We want to provide the best tools for our students,” said Kasey Urquidez, the associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of undergraduate admissions. “iPads offer many opportunities by way of applications for students and [are] functional for taking notes and reading material.”

Though the UA’s intentions were good and the iPad does have some capacity for academic functions, it isn’t the best tool for students to be using.

A recent study demonstrated that writing notes by hand enhances the learning process, while typing the same notes on a keyboard can actually detract from a person’s ability to learn. In the study, two sets of adults were tasked with learning to write in a different language with an unfamiliar alphabet.

One group used a keyboard to take notes and the other was instructed to write with paper and pens. After about a month and a half, the participants who were writing by hand performed better on all of the tests of the foreign language.

Not only is note taking on the iPad less than ideal, it isn’t compatible with several programs that students need to use on a regular basis, such as Sapling Learning, which is used by the science department. “[IPads] can’t run any of the programs like MATLAB or Flash,” said Brian Reaves, an engineering freshman.

Despite the school work the iPad can help with, many students tend to regard it as little more than an expensive toy.

“To be honest, they’re not the best use of the university’s money,” Reaves said. “They’re pretty much portable Netflix devices.”

Without the ability to do schoolwork on the iPad, Pranav Balaji, a pre-physiology freshman, said he uses his iPad for FaceTime and games.

Other students even decide to sell their iPad because they find no practical use for it in college.
IPads aren’t completely useless, especially considering the portable weight and size of the device, but 4,000 of them is a considerable investment on the part of the university, and that’s money can be spent better.

Instead of receiving an iPad “[I’d want] vouchers to the bookstore to help pay for textbooks,” said Alexa Stallworth, a pre-nursing freshman.

The school coul also return giving out MacBooks, which are fully compatible with the programs students need for school, as it did in previous years.

“I’d rather just have the $500,” said Thomas Malone, a history freshman.

Ultimately, the iPads are just fun and fancy toys, and the university shouldn’t be purchasing 4,000 toys that many students can’t use for their classes even if they want to. iPads are impractical for use in the classroom due to their inability to run several important programs, and in the end may be detrimental to a student’s learning when it comes to absorbing information in lectures.

“Students were very excited to utilize iPads in their education and so we opted to offer these in lieu of other technology,” Urquidez said.

The excitement has died down, though, and it’s time to move on and spend our merit-based scholarship money in a more practical manner.

Elizabeth Eaton is a freshman studying pre-journalism. Follow her on Twitter.com/dailywildcat.


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