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School Goes 100% iPad

By Krista Almanzan

Monterey, CA – Monterey College of Law is going 100% iPad. Every student has one and soon so will all faculty members. They're participating in a pilot program with BARBRI, a maker of bar preparation materials. The iPad materials include video lectures, bar practice tests and digital flash cards among other tools.

Derric Oliver is a second year student at Monterey College of Law. "This is a quick on and you're immediately to flash cards and you've got access to the entire repertoire of material for all years of law school. As opposed to if you want to study contracts you have to have the 500 contracts flash cards. If you want to student criminal law you have to have that set of 500 flash cards. This is just a lot more convenient," said Oliver.

Students are using the BARBRI materials on the iPad to see if easy access to the information improves bar results and pass rates. Faculty will also be incorporating the material and iPad into class. "I know I sound like an Apple ad. But the minute you flip one on and see how easy it is to access and how quickly it turns on how much material you can put on, it's not really like a laptop," said Monterey College of Law Dean Mitch Winick. He's sold on the iPad as an educational tool. "You're going to lunch for an hour, would you pack up your laptop, take it to the restaurant, open it up at the table and study for 45 minutes? Probably not, if you were being truthful about it. Would you grab the iPad and take it for 45 minutes? I'm betting the answer is yes. So if you do the math and add 30 to 45 minutes a day over the course of a four year program, we have the potential to capture maybe six or seven hundred hours of additional studying. Well that's huge," said Winick.

While 100% of the students and faculty will have iPads, they won't be able to do 100% of their work with the iPad. That's because most law school books are still traditional paper textbooks. Kenneth C. Green heads up The Campus Computing Project which tracks technology trends and issues in higher education. He says there are several reasons why eBooks haven't caught on in higher ed, including the expectation that they should cost less. "Digital text are often more expensive not necessarily than new books, but effectively than used books and used books are really the coin of the realm when you look at often what students use," said Green.

He adds users also want the books to do more than their paper counterparts. "And at present it seems a lot of what we get with digital textbooks is something that's essentially started in print and has been poured to screen without a lot of the expected added value of features and functionality that we have hoped for the digital environment. That presumably will change over time, but I think that's a tough challenge for publishers," said Green

As publishers start to meet that challenge, Dean Winick says Monterey College of Law will be ready. "Although we're first. We won't be first by much. I think you'll see other graduate schools and I do think you'll see other law schools that will look at what we're doing and incorporate this type of technology in their program," said Winick. Starting in the fall, the iPad will be a standard part of the college's tuition. Dean Winick will be talking about going 100% iPad next month at an Apple in education symposium that will be broadcast live on the web.

Read Kenneth C. Green's blog posts on eBooks: eBooks-Year 2 and Cars...and College Textbooks