By Tawseef Ali
Administrators in the School of Business are taking a step this semester to make e-books more accessible to students. The school lowered its iPad rental rate from $120 to $60 per semester to ensure affordability for students.
“I wanted to be sure that price was not an issue with respect to student demand so we decided to offer them at a much reduced price to make them more accessible,” Tracy Hurley, head of the School of Business, said.
The rate was reduced because roughly two-thirds of the 150 iPad 2 units offered to business students were not rented during fall 2012, and newer models are also available in the market, Hurley said.
Enrollment data compiled in late January lists 762 students enrolled in the School of Business. Hurley said 99 percent of business faculty adopt e-books for their courses, increasing the need for low-cost reading devices.
The iPad rental program was launched in 2011 to support the university e-book program. Syed Harun, chair of the School of Business, said that earlier that year a semester was dedicated to testing potential e-book reading devices. Department administrators concluded that the iPad 2 was the top choice for students and faculty to access their course materials, and utilize the tools present on the e-book platform.
Funding for the iPad rental and e-book programs originated through a $300,000 federal fund for the improvement of postsecondary education (FIPSE) grant, which expired late 2011. After the e-book program was established, the remainder of the FIPSE grant was used to form the iPad program.
E-book Program Coordinator Michele Martin provides technical support on a one-on-one basis and serves as an e-book liaison for students.
She said the devices are preloaded with additionally purchased applications worth $80, such as Blackboard, Garageband, iMovie and Keynotes. E-books saved on the bookshelf application can be accessed offline by students.
At the end of the semester, returned devices are reset.
Student reaction to iPad price reduction
James Parker, Master of Business Administration student, said he is interested in renting a device to familiarize himself with the iPad. He found out about the program when he saw a flier in his academic adviser’s office advertising the rental program.
Parker is interested in developing applications for Apple Inc. devices, and intends to purchase a personal device in the future. Renting one from the School of Business, he said, allows him exposure to the technology without having to purchase. He believes the program makes expensive technology more accessible to all students, rather those who are economically advantaged.
Parker was surprised to find out how much it would cost him to rent an iPad for the whole semester.
“I was blown away,” he said, adding that the $60 fee was very reasonable.
In terms of educational benefits, Parker said that the e-book program increases student involvement and engagement, but only for those students who choose to engage. Students’ access to technology won’t change who is motivated to learn and who isn’t, he added.
Students awarded with federal financial aid can apply those funds towards the device rental, Martin said.
Rental reservations are required through the e-book coordinators office in Room 206 of Brooks City-Base Campus. For more information, call the program coordinator’s office at 210-784-2307, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org