BY ALYSSA MCCANN // DEC. 12, 2012 //
If you plan to ask Santa for an iPad this Christmas, you may want to reconsider. The Levin Library has already purchased 10 of them, and will rent nine out to students, faculty and staff starting next semester.
According to Ed Tallent, director of the library, the rental program is something of a test, to see how students will use the devices and how the devices might support and facilitate learning.
“Students will want to use these for a variety of things, and that is perfectly acceptable,” said Tallent. “We want the user to tell us how they were used and what value they have.”
Each iPad can be rented for only one week, but users can personalize the device with apps of their choosing. There are very few limits, Tallent said. If a student wants to upload game apps or social media apps, so be it. The college’s goal, he reiterated, was to better understand how students use the devices.
Nicole Deltorto, a sophomore management major, said she is excited to give them a try. “I think the iPads in the library are a great asset to the college, especially for a student like me,” she said. “I could use the iPad for presentations in my management classes.”
Kerrin Thomas, a sophomore education major, similarly said he likes the idea of renting iPads, but believes more should be available. “More than nine students will want to rent at a time, and a week is not long enough to make the iPad personal,” she said.
Some colleges are far beyond the trial stage. Here in Massachusetts, for example, every full-time student and faculty member at Regis College in Weston, received an iPad this fall. Moreover, students are allowed to keep their iPads after they graduate. According to the college, it hopes to replace most hard-copy textbooks with digital versions that can be used through the iPads, both to save students money and to facilitate greater connections between faculty and students.
Each iPad cost Curry $499, plus an additional $99 for the Apple Care support package. The 10 iPads combined for a total cost of approximately $5,980, including the Apple Care support package. The library also had to purchase a storage and charging cabinet, carrying cases and additional items.
But according to Tallent, the hardest part of the trial process to date was figuring out how users can customize each iPad with apps of their liking. Typically, iPads or iPhones are registered individually through personal iTunes accounts, and users simply download apps from the iTunes Store, either for free or for a small charge. But given that the iPads will be shared, accessing and maintaining apps is a bit more involved. Tallent added that the library would budget some money to purchase apps, if users are interested in certain ones. Word processing apps such as Pages and Templates will be available on each iPad upon rental, he added.
To ensure the long-term success of the program, users will be liable for any damage to the device while it’s in their possession. Also, there is a late-return fee of $25. If an iPad is more than three days overdue, it will be considered lost or stolen and a full replacement charge will be assessed to the individual’s financial account, Tallent said.
At the end of the date, though, the point of the rental program is similar to all services the library offers. Said Tallent: “We want to connect with users, support their academic and leisure work, and deliver the collections and services in an effective, efficient and ubiquitous manner.”