Seton Hill University, a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, is putting a spin on the old practice of students giving teachers apples in hope of better grades. Starting in the fall of 2010, Seton Hill will be giving all full-time students a 13" Apple MacBook laptop and an iPad.
Promoted as part of the University's Griffin Technology Advantage Program, the school has stated that "This new program provides students with the best in technology and collaborative learning tools, ensuring that Seton Hill students will be uniquely suited to whatever careers they choose - even those that have not yet been created."
Students will have access to these devices for class work and personal use, and will receive a new laptop after two years (which they get to keep upon graduation).
What's this mean for marketers? For starters, it's further confirmation that college students are media accessible at almost every waking moment. The 2009 Alloy College Explorer study found that on average college students are collectively spending up to 12 hours interacting with different types of media, usually multi-tasking across their phone, computer, gaming device, etc. The iPad may be the next big step in media convergence - a portable, one-stop media device.
At the least, it's a vote of confidence in the iPad's functional benefits. Seton Hill is banking on the fact that the device has real utility for learning / work - possibly a pre-cursor to companies following suit and distributing iPads as a less expensive alternative to laptops. With iPad sales kicking off this weekend, who else do you think will be jumping on the iPad bandwagon? Are you planning on getting one? Who knows, we may all be working off of tablets rather laptops before the class of 2010 graduates.