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iPads at B-School: Pros and Cons

Will the iPad revolutionise business school?

By  Samuel Hargadine

Fri Oct 29 2010

BusinessBecause
I walk into a room, everyone has the same addiction. I stand to admit I have a problem “Hi, I’m Sam, and I’m a Mac-aholic.”

While this fictional support group may only be in my mind’s eye now, mark my words: the day is coming.

Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money is constantly singing the praises of Apple. He believes it is a mistake to leave them out of your tech portfolio because they are one of America’s last great manufacturing companies, not to mention their prowess for creativity and their ability to flip an industry on its head.

Whether it was music before the iPod or smart phones before the iPhone – each of these markets has been irrevocably changed due to Apple’s innovations.

The iPad is already revolutionizing print media, but what can it specifically do for us in the business school world?

The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland asked itself the following question , “How can business schools save money on printing, contribute to environmental sustainability, improve networking opportunities among participants and bring cutting edge knowledge into the classroom?” Their answer– the iPad.

In a trial at IMD business school in Switzerland this year, students were each given an iPad, pre-loaded with presentations, case studies, related reading and program information.

The trial was hailed as a great success by organizers, in contrast to a recent a trial of Amazon's Kindle DX at Darden Business School at the University of Virginia.

IMD believes that the greatest advantage to students using the iPad is its networking capacity. Students are able to send digital business cards en masse instead of exchanging the paper copies at the beginning of a program.

IMD claims to have cut down on average nearly1000 pages of printed material per student, per module. A saving not only for the environment but also to student print allowances.

The downside to heavy reliance on the iPad is that some students prefer reading from paper and making hand written notes in the margins. Also, the potential for distraction in class is omnipresent and is only exacerbated by relying on the iPad to take notes.

Another school to introduce iPads into the classroom is Nyenrode Business Universiteit who has teamed up with Software Test Consultants Sogeti to trial and develop new mobile apps for business.

“The International MBA students will be given iPads to use in the Apps in Business project. In the context of Nyenrode’s International MBA, the iPad will play an important role in sharing information, planning classes and maintaining the (international) network of professional and social contacts. This will also make an important first step towards the renewal of education”, says Prof. Désirée van Gorp, director of the International MBA program at Nyenrode.

With Apps in Business, the students will join with Sogeti to perform practical research on the development of intelligent, competitive and innovative mobile solutions for business and education. The students will also contribute to the ViNT study “The App Effect”, the main aim of which is to establish the impact of apps on organizations and business. An interesting and relevant project for todays' Gen Y MBA crowd.

A optimistic techie blog, www.theapplegoogle.com, believes that the classroom applications for iPad use are limitless. We’ll see how quickly the iPad takes over.

Personally, I’m just worried that it will be yet another apple product that I love, perhaps just a little too much. 

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