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Saturday, November 01, 2014

An iPad in Every Home

Follow on Twitter as @carlstraumsheim
Carl Straumsheim, Technology Reporter writes, "Lynn University’s tablet initiative is spreading online -- that is, its distance education programs will from next fall be delivered through tablets and at notably low prices.

The university’s Board of Trustees approved the plans on Oct. 22 -- two years to the day after President Obama and Mitt Romney clashed over foreign policy issues at Lynn’s Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center, an event that prompted Lynn to upgrade its IT infrastructure. The go-ahead for the revamped program highlights the breakneck pace at which Lynn has hurled itself into a tablet-centric future.

Photo: Inside Higher Ed
Since its moment in the national spotlight, Lynn has replaced textbooks with Apple’s iPads and iBooks, adopted iTunes U as its learning management system and built its own attendance and gradebook app. Its revamped distance education programs, launching next fall with seven degree options, will extend the tablet revolution to Lynn’s online students at a fraction of what the programs used to cost.

Fully online students will pay as little as $35,400 for a degree -- only a little more than a year's tuition at Lynn for education in person. For that price, Lynn will ship the students an iPad mini, which they will use to access the digital course content; file assignments; and interact with classmates.

Gregg Cox, vice president for academic affairs, said Lynn’s governance structure has enabled the university to pursue the tablet initiative. Lynn does not offer tenure, and most faculty members hold one-year contracts.

“We created an entire 60-credit core curriculum in one year,” Cox said. “That’s just unheard-of in higher education. Our faculty -- they’re not fractured, if you will. They’re not hung up on their departments, they’re not up in their ivory towers -- they’re here for the common good, which luckily is teaching students.”

The university now offers more than 500 courses in about 20 undergraduate programs through iTunes U -- Apple’s course management software -- involving about 100 faculty members, Cox said. Some of those courses will be converted to serve the distance education programs, condensed from 15 weeks to a more intensive 8 weeks. A university spokeswoman said faculty so far have produced 24 iBooks -- digital textbook replacements -- with another 10 in the works.

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