Trina Marmarelli, Instructional Technologist Martin Ringle, Chief Technology Officer Background When Apple announced the release of its iPad tablet in late January 2010, Reed College had just completed a semester-long study of the Amazon Kindle DX eReader in which students and faculty in three upper-division seminars used the Kindle to read, annotate, and discuss books and articles for the courses.1 While the Kindle DX failed to meet faculty and student needs in several important ways, most notably highlighting, annotation, and manipulation of texts, the study participants were optimistic enough about the long-term potential of eReader technology to prompt the College to continue its evaluation of emerging products. Consequently, during the fall semester of 2010, we undertook a study parallel in structure to the 2009 Kindle DX study. Students in one upper-division seminar, Political Science 422: Nuclear Politics — The origins and effects of the spread of nuclear weapons,2 used the iPad for all of their assigned readings. Since this was one of the courses included in the Kindle study and much of the reading list was unchanged, comparisons between student reactions were easy to make. We anticipated that a multipurpose device like the iPad would have different strengths and weaknesses than the Kindle DX, a dedicated eReader, and we were particularly interested in examining these differences. This report summarizes the design and findings of our iPad study and discusses the future of tablet devices at Reed and in higher education more generally.3 Goals and format of the study Reed began the iPad study with three major goals: • to assess the status of multi-purpose tablet technology for curricular use • to identify specific impacts (both positive and negative) of tablet technology on teaching and learning activities • to evaluate how well features of the iPad addressed concerns raised by students and faculty who participated in the Kindle DX... [continues]
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