Ohio State Evaluates Potential Changes to iPad Distribution for Incoming Freshmen

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Ohio State is evaluating the potential for changes in the distribution of iPads to incoming freshmen. Credit: Jake Rahe | Lantern Photo File

The Digital Flagship initiative, which provides iPads to new freshmen, among other offerings, is being evaluated for potential changes.

University President Kristina M. Johnson said Ohio State plans to scale the program and may provide devices to students on an as-needed basis, based on existing technology they possess. and what would best meet the needs of their class. She said the university plans to survey incoming students to determine how iPads could be delivered in the fall.

“We are committed to providing access to technology and technology that students need for the courses they need, and we need to assess what that looks like, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution,” said Johnson.

The program, which is a collaboration between Apple and Ohio State, was originally announced in 2017. It provided technology kits, including an iPad, case, keyboard, Apple Pencil, and Apple Care to incoming freshmen at from the 2018-19 class.

iPads are most often used to monitor emails, complete lessons and view Carmen, the online portal for course materials and grades. A 2020 Student life survey found that 96% of students agreed or strongly agreed that tablets “were useful for academic purposes”.

In January, department heads and professors expressed concerns on planning for instruction in the absence of technology, students working with older, less functional devices, and the impact of the potential end of the program on low-income students.

Johnson said the partnership with Apple could continue, evolve into something new, or the university could partner with another company.

“I think we’re only scratching the surface of what Digital Flagship could be,” Johnson said.

Jessica Langer contributed reporting.

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