A few years ago, the University of Illinois conducted an experiment that was doomed to fail. University students received Apple iPad tablets with instructions to use them for their studies. The students didn’t get any other instructions, tools, or support. Yet, the experiment was a success.
The experiment was conducted in 2011, but reported in late 2014. Every student of the Master of Science program received an iPad from the school. Students were only told that they were supposed to use the tablets to study more effectively. No restrictions or locks were installed in tablets by the university. The university didn’t have any educational IT system integrated with tablets, but intranet was available just like for PCs.
The survey participants were 22—43 old students of the same Master of Science program.
The key conclusions in the report are as follows.
1. Students increased their communication with the lecturers and fellow students. The use of email, searching information from the intranet and downloading study material increased as well.
2. Tablets replaced pen and paper as the primary note taking method for majority of students. Assignments that required writing were still carried out on a laptop computer.
3. The students regarded tablets complementary to PCs.
When the experiment ended, 80% of the students said they have no problems with on-screen reading, and they rarely print material.