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MSTC Students Swap Textbooks for iPads

ipads replace textbooksWalk into a McCombs classroom this summer and you may notice piles of textbooks replaced by the glowing screen and sleek frame of the iPad Mini.

This year’s students in the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) program are the first class with the option to swap their textbooks for Apple’s tiny tablet, with the textbooks electronically available through Amazon’s Kindle app. Nearly all of the 70 students opted for the iPad Mini.   

It seemed obvious that the degree’s course materials go digital, says MSTC program manager Amanda Zimmerman, who oversaw the shift, along with graduate coordinator Daisy Cantu. “We’re a technology commercialization program so it makes sense for us to be using a technology to distribute books,” she says. “And it’s environmentally friendly and faster.”

Students have found other uses for the iPads, too, Zimmerman and Cantu say. Many have downloaded the Blackboard App to access course materials and use PDF highlighting and note-taking tools. Professors are even integrating apps like the Finance Calculator into their lectures. It’s a positive for the program’s remote students (about 10 percent of the class), who use the devices to video-conference into classrooms, FaceTime with classmates during breaks, and receive updated course materials even when traveling internationally.

Across the U.S., other universities are making the digital transition, too. Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, the Illinois Institute of Technology, George Fox University in Oregon, Long Island University, and Chicago State University have all incorporated iPads into their curriculum. 

For students, the change seems only natural. “There’s a book in one of our marketing classes that discusses going to digital material and whether it will actually happen,” Cantu says. “One of the students spoke up to say, ‘Of course, look at us.’ It’s normal to them.”


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