All questions of technology at Foundation University eventually wind up in the office if F.U. V.P. Victor “Dean” Sinco, and it was there that I found him one morning last week, surrounded by Apple Computer equipment and monitors of various sizes, playing with his latest toy, the Apple Ipad. “This is really cool,” he told me, handing it to me, “it’s going to change everything in education”.
What I held in my hand was a bright screen playing an HD movie, in an object made of glass and polished aluminum, about the size of a sheet of ordinary paper and about one half inch thick. “It weighs less than a pound,” said Dean, “and it can hold a ton of books, and photos, and maps, and anything else— Email, internet downloads; plus, it’ll run for ten hours on one charge. And it’s cheap! –About $500 U.S.- over a year, that’s about 75 Pesos a day; over five years, about 15 Pesos a day! That’s about the same as one of those no-brand laptops that die on you in a couple of months- and this is an Apple product!
“Well,” I said, “it’s a pretty amazing machine, but how can it ‘revolutionize education’ ? “Well,” he said, “think about being able to carry a whole library around with you, inside something you can hold and read like a book, at home, in bed, anywhere. We’re digitizing our entire library here at F.U., and our students and staff will be able to download anything from there through our on-campus wi-fi. Also we have a lot of educational videos on line available for them, plus chat rooms can be set up to take the place of assignment books — and maybe even some academic counseling.”
“Then”, he went on , “look at all the books out of copyright- anything written before 1935- all available for download without royalty. That’s law books, medical books, practically free. The cost of the Ipad is nothing compared to the cost of books like that if you have to buy them. And then there will be free downloads of books from university libraries all over the world. ”
“Knowing you”, I said, “I’m sure you’ve come to some grand philosophical conclusion from all this.” He laughed. “Well, yes”, he said, “This technology means that anyone in the world can read and learn anything. So learning won’t be restricted to people in big cities in major countries. People from, say, Dumaguete, will now be able to compete in knowledge with people in New York and Berlin and Paris. It’s the globalization of knowledge- that’s pretty significant, don’t you think?”
“I’m sure it is”, I said, “my question is, how do you get one of these things”? “I snuck a few of them in ahead”, he said, “but they’ll be generally available here in July.”
“ We really want to encourage our students and staff to sign on to this technology, so we’re planning to raffle ten Ipads to our students, and hope that others will follow when they see what they can do with this thing.” “Count me in,” I said. “Sorry,” he said, you’re not an F.U. student. You’ll have to buy one”.