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Goodbye notebooks, hello iPads at Seton Hill

| Thursday, April 26, 2012, 11:14 p.m.

When Apple begins selling the iPad on Saturday, Seton Hill University students won't need to stand in line to buy the latest gadget.

Beginning this fall, every full-time Seton Hill student will be given an iPad they can use during their college years and keep upon graduation.

"We decided this was the best teaching companion we could ever want, and the best learning companion," Seton Hill President JoAnne Boyle said Tuesday.

The iPad, Apple's latest mobile device, combines the features of a digital media player like the iPod with the size of a laptop computer.

Seton Hill officials said students will be able to create, produce and share their work instantly with faculty and fellow students using the iPad through the university's wireless network.

They can abandon pencil and paper notes by typing the notes into their iPad and then synching them with their computers if they wish. Officials expect that as digital textbooks become available, students can download them to their iPads rather than carry around books.

"Goodbye," Boyle said, as she shook a heavy textbook in her hand during the announcement to students yesterday.

The announcement included an appearance by a special guest -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who, according to Boyle came "all the way from California ... PA."

In fact, Jobs was Seton Hill senior theater major Nathan May, who portrayed the Apple chief in his glasses and trademark black turtleneck and jeans.

Boyle said for more than a year, the university has been working with a federal grant to invest in its technology. A large part of that has been training faculty members on how to incorporate ever-changing technology into classes.

The university had been mulling over what type of device it could provide to students that would enhance the learning process. When Apple introduced the iPad in January, they found it.

In addition, incoming freshmen will receive a MacBook laptop, as well as the iPad, Boyle said.

Boyle said the technology will enable faculty lessons to be more interactive. A lecture on a subject can lead students, in class, to more resources on the Internet.

Whether many textbooks will be available initially remains to be seen. Boyle said that's a part of the technology that probably won't impact students right away.

The cost of the initial iPad launch is being absorbed by the university. But the student technology fee, which now is $100 a semester, will be increased to $500 a semester to pay for the MacBook portion of the plan as well as the expanded wireless capabilities and an on-campus Apple Certified Repair Center that will open in the fall.

Seton Hill officials believe it's among the first colleges and universities to offer free iPads to students.

Apple officials could not be reached for comment yesterday, but at least one other university is jumping on the iPad bandwagon. George Fox University in Oregon announced that incoming freshman will have the choice of an iPad or a MacBook starting in the fall. The university has given a computer to each incoming student for the past 20 years.

Seton Hill students said they were excited about the possibilities.

Everett Manns, 23, a graphic design student from Mt. Lebanon, said he's always losing paper notes and thinks the iPad's notes-taking features will come in handy.

"If I don't do it on the computer, I don't do it," he said.

Breanna Wong, 21, a graphic design student from Reading, said she's excited about the possibilities, especially e-books.

"A lot of times, you buy a book, and you only need a couple of pages out of it," Wong said.

"It's going to be a little bit different, but it will be green," added Jennifer McGee, 20, a business/marketing student from Oakdale.

Creative writing junior Katilin Monier, 21, of Harrison City, said while she's excited about getting her hands on the technology, she's not sure if she'll change her behavior a lot.

"I still like taking notes by hand, but that's just me," she said. "I think it helps me remember better."

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