- iPad Statement
Statement on the BVU iPad Initiative
Buena Vista University has a longstanding reputation as an innovator in the use of technology in higher education. The university was the first fully wireless campus in the country in 2000, and was a leader in distributing laptops to all students, faculty, and staff in Storm Lake at that time.
Now, the Apple iPad and recently introduced iPad2 present BVU with a new opportunity for innovation and leadership in technology. These exciting devices can transform higher education, from practical electronic textbooks to ubiquitous videoconferencing, to applications no one yet imagined. The new iPads promise to be a powerful tool for enhancing teaching and learning.
However, it is important to note that there is one fundamental difference between iPads now and laptops in 2000 as BVU prepares to distribute iPads across campus.
In 2000, laptops, and personal computers more generally, were a mature technology whose use in education and business was already understood and embraced most everywhere. By the mid-1990s, word-processing software had essentially rendered typewriters obsolete, and e-mail communication was fully established as a standard form of business communication. By the late 1990s, use of the web was widespread, and by 2000 had pervaded the operations of businesses and educational institutions. So the eBVYou laptop initiative was primarily a matter of making a standard technology more readily available to students, empowering them to join what was already a mainstream activity of personal computer use.
The iPads, on the other hand, are not yet a mature technology and their use is not yet fully understood in either an educational or business context. It is basically a new device category that, as it happens, has some overlap with extant technology (in both directions--down to iPads and up to MacBooks), but is fundamentally different in use and potential.
The potential of iPads is being discovered, not refined. BVU has the opportunity to help define and refine how iPads are used in higher education, rather than adopting a technology that most people already understand, and whose needs are already built into the higher education infrastructure. The laptop initiative removed access to technology as a barrier for employing it educationally. Everyone starts from the same baseline, so, for example, classes can be required to create PowerPoints or video presentations without worrying that some students will not be able to do it because they lack access to a computer.
What the iPad initiative does, on the other hand, is INVITE everyone on campus to join together to figure out collaboratively what they can do, and how they, along with BVU’s already powerful technological infrastructure, can join together with the creativity and good thinking of the students, faculty and staff to develop some really interesting educational applications that, frankly, haven't even occurred to us yet.
In 2000, people already knew what to do with a laptop. Many individuals had been using personal computers for 15 years or more at that point. In 2011, people mostly do not yet know what to do with an iPad, though it is plentifully clear that they pose transformative opportunities for BVU. We need to get all of us together to learn with each other what these opportunities might be.
Even though the pilot is still in progress, it became apparent that the iPad has tremendous potential. A follow-up survey will be conducted at the end of the pilot to continue to explore the learning opportunities and identify areas that need improvement.