9 Surprising Ways Schools Are Using iPads Around The World

iPads are making waves in education all over the nation, even in college classrooms, where they’re replacing laptops, textbooks, and notebooks. Some colleges have even gone so far as to hand out iPads to new students, helping students and faculty all work with the same technology for learning.

This year, the iPad is still going strong and schools are continuing to innovate new ways to use the tablets in class and around campus. Here we share just a few of the coolest ways iPads are making waves in higher ed this year, from helping teams play better to ensuring students never forget their notes.

  • Colleges in the UAE are going iPad only.

    The U.S. isn’t the only place where iPads are becoming a common sight in college classrooms. In the United Arab Emirates, iPads are also playing a significant role in higher education. In September 2012, the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology announced a deal with Apple that will see the school’s campuses remove all paper and pens from the classroom and rely only on iPads for note-taking and information management. The UAE is the first college in the region to offer iPad-only lessons, and the change is expected to impact some 21,500 students. Called iPadagogy, the initiative will mean that students will be required to purchase or finance an iPad to attend classes: no pens and paper will be allowed and all classroom materials, from textbooks to syllabi, will be digital. The UAE isn’t the only nation working on these kinds of radical changes; similar programs are being rolled out at 62 other top colleges and in numerous businesses around the world.

  • Gustavus Adolphus College has created an iPad app for admissions.

    Instead of mass mailing thousands of brochures and packets in an attempt to recruit new students, Gustavus Adolphus is taking a more high-tech approach to building its freshman class. The school has rolled out a new iPad app this fall that’s full of information for prospective students, allowing them to learn about the campus, see photos, and even get materials for applying. The school hasn’t completely eliminated the viewbooks they send out, but they’re only delivered on request now, and parents and students are now directed first to the app for information about the school. Gustavus is one of the first to develop this kind of admissions app, though others could be soon to follow as tablet ownership becomes more widespread.

  • Colleges are prepping for the big game with iPads.

    iPads aren’t just showing up in college classrooms but on football fields as well, as coaches and players use them to get ready for games, strategize, and keep in touch. Ohio State and Stanford are two examples of schools that are making the most of the tech to keep coaches and players on the same page. The devices are used to send and share scouting reports about upcoming opponents, watch practice films, get tailored training advice, draw up plays, and in the case of Stanford, are even used to house digitally based playbooks. While coaches admit that the old-fashioned ways of doing these things still work, the iPad method makes things a lot easier and makes resources accessible at any time and from anywhere.

  • Regis College is going all in on the tablets.

    Regis College is among a growing number of schools that are seriously getting behind the iPad as an educational tool by distributing iPads to all faculty members and incoming freshmen starting this fall. The iPads will be distributed pre-loaded with apps tailored to Regis’ classes, so students only need to power them on to start using them in class. To prepare for the roll-out, students have been taking iPad training sessions and some faculty members received iPads in advance so they can practice working digital teaching into their curriculum.

  • Wabash College uses iPads to facilitate history discussions.

    At Wabash College, students in 19th Century European History are using iPads to get more out of their educational experience. Professor Michelle Rhodes believes that the tablets can be an invaluable tool for learning, allowing students to quickly take notes, access their readings, and manage their course materials. The adoption of the devices in the course was motivated by rising printing costs and a larger pilot program at the school for using iPads in the classroom. The response has been positive, as students read e-books, use iAnnotate, and even explore a virtual version of Napoleon’s castle throughout the semester.

  • A University of Michigan professor is developing new classroom apps.

    At the beginning of 2012, Professor Perry Samson debuted LectureTools, an iPad app that makes it easy for students to collaboratively draw on a shared canvas. Samson teaches atmospheric, oceanic, and space sciences at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and developed the app as a way for students to be able to instantly annotate or ask questions about slides in a lecture. He believes that this kind of tech, which he first innovated in 2005 for Pocket PC, helps turn large lecture halls into small classrooms, allowing all students to quickly and easily engage with the professor and other students. Even better, the application makes it possible for students to participate remotely, which can be a big help for non-traditional students balancing work and family commitments.

  • Medical schools are making iPads standard equipment.

    iPads became a common sight in hospitals all over the world almost as soon as they were released, and as a result a growing number of medical schools are making the tablets a part of their training programs. The Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is one example, rolling out a program this fall that will equip all incoming students with an iPad and a white coat with an iPad-sized pocket. Administrators and faculty at the school believe adding the iPad to their courses and residencies will make it easier for students to learn, as they can call up full-color images of human anatomy on-demand, get real-time updates to their course curriculum, and easily communicate with teachers and patients. Even better, using the iPad will save more than 40 reams of paper that students would traditionally use for taking notes and printing out materials.

  • Colleges are using iPads as marketing tools.

    iPads are proving to be pretty great marketing tools for colleges on a number of fronts. A few schools, like Gustavus Adolphus College, are using them to share information about their programs and offerings with prospective students, helping them to bring in new students without spending big on mailing out viewbooks. Other schools are taking a simple but effective approach. At the Wharton School of Business, students can pick up an iPad at the university bookstore that’s engraved with the Wharton logo. The custom-branded iPad is available only to current students and staff. Created for the school’s executive MBA program, which has been exploring a pilot program using iPads in the classroom over the past few years, the iPads have become an in-demand item on campus as other students have inquired about getting their own. As a result, the tablets are proving to be successful tools for showcasing the brand of the school and plans are in the works to let alumni buy the devices, too, so usage could soon be much more widespread.

  • Salem State’s bookstore is selling interactive digital textbooks.

    Students at Salem State don’t have to seek out digital textbooks on their own; they can buy them right from the school’s bookstore just as they would traditional texts. The digital textbooks don’t just provide the usual text, they also come complete with interactive features, quizzes, and the ability to annotate and highlight the text. So far, the bookstore only carries 13 digital texts, but it hopes to add more in the future as it expands access to other topics. The books not only boast additional features, however, but also save owners money: up to 40% off the cost of bound textbooks as students can buy only the chapters of the book they need.

Image courtesy iLounge.


  1. Benj

    September 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    You should try to use the more generic word “tablet” instead of “iPad” in your headline.

  2. Terry Friedlander

    September 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Well said. PicLits has recently made our site usable on the iPad. Thanks for the amazing statistics. The ‘Edudemic” mission resonates with our PicLits.com web site. Our goal is to provide the best possible language art tool possible so that everyone learns to WRITE and read. Without writing, there would be nothing to read. Unfortunately, we are only a 25% site and without the resources to take the site to the next level. See the OUR VISION tab on the home page. We do have over three thousand teachers in K-K12 registered as well as 50K registered users. NO marketing, no advertising …… word of mouth.
    Thanks for sharing your site and in particular, the spread of technology in education/learning. CHEERS, Terry Friedlander

  3. Desmond Jordan

    September 25, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Many Sylvan Learning Centres in the USA and Canada are converting over to iPads as a delivery platform for their traditional mastery teaching method under a new program called Sylvansync. It will allow even more individualization and customization of each students unique learning path.
    Think about it – the best teachers with the best technology in low teacher to student ratios. It is going to be an exciting learning journey. As a Sylvan Franchisee who is an early adopter i am very excited by the initial results and the huge potential to reach more students and do some amazing things in education. The train is leaving the station and it is gathering speed. Steve Jobs may have had his flaws but boy could he read the future needs of us mere followers. A billion kids will thank you Steve.

  4. Tariq Tanauli

    September 26, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Excellent article,informative and very well written.The future of education is exciting and more holistic with these technological breakthroughs.

  5. Yusup

    September 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    In Malaysia Asia e University are giving primary school teachers Ipad tablet as a learning device in the Teacher graduating Education programe. 100 ipad were distributed in the March Semester 2011, 700 in March 2012 and another 1200 will be delivered in November 2012. Teachers used the tablet to access learning materials in the form of self-instructional modules to pursue their Bachelor of education degree. A study showed that they loved to use the tablet and also assist them to access materilas more easily and friendly coupled with lightweight, small, touch screen, long battery life and good mobility.

  6. Leigh Grogan

    October 11, 2012 at 5:25 am

    Exciting times,the entire mobile ecosystem is in the middle of revolutionary change, and students from kindergarten to the graduate level are affected by it. It is particularly pressing in the higher education ranks as the last of the digitally semiliterate students graduate and are replaced by ever more savvy digital media consumers. iPads, media tablets — and mobile devices in general — epitomize this change, and CIOs and other IT leaders in the education field must lead the effort to incorporate these devices into the infrastructure while others weave it into new and more exciting curricula