Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania has announced it will give every full-time student a new Apple iPad upon arrival in the fall. This seems remarkably irresponsible to me. In a time of scant resources, does it really make sense to commit hundreds of thousands of dollars to a device very few people have ever even touched and for which not a single device-specific educational application has been built and tested with real students? With a total enrollment of approximately 2000, and a per-iPad cost of approximately $500, Seton Hill could spend $1,000,000 on this experiment.
The iPad may very well turn out to be an excellent, maybe even game-changing, device. But let’s at least give it a test drive. If the iPad proves a flop—Steve Jobs is not without his failures; remember the Lisa, the Cube, and the Apple TV?—Seton Hill will have spent an awful lot of money simply to (and I hate to put it this way) tie itself to the Apple hype machine for a day or two.