Australian university to issue 11,000 iPads next year

The initiative is part of a curriculum overhaul at the University of Western Sydney that will stress a "blended learning model."

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Tablets have been eating away at the PC's position as the connected device of choice, and now they're taking their place in the classrooms of an Australian university.

The University of Western Sydney said in a statement that it plans to distribute 11,000 iPads next year to every new student and member of the faculty "to support learning and teaching innovations across the curriculum and in informal learning environments."

"With digital technology revolutionizing how we connect and interact with the world, university study should be no different," professor Kerri-Lee Krause, the university's pro vice-chancellor, told The Australian.

Education was a key market for Apple more than two decades ago, and it returned to its roots earlier this year with the introduction of its iBooks Author software -- free software that lets authors design digital versions of textbooks and other interactive titles for the iPad. It was launched in conjunction with the company's push to get textbook authors to create and distribute digital edition.

The iPad initiative is part of a curriculum overhaul at UWS that will stress "flexible study options" and "a blended learning model," The Australian reports. Traditional lectures will be augmented by a more interactive learning approach, Krause said.

"Mobile technologies will be a key part of this strategy," she said. "We want to support our academic staff to make the most of iPads and custom-designed apps in class so that, even in the largest lecture theater, students have access to just-for-me, just-in-time interactive learning experiences."

While not the first to give Apple's slates to students in an apparently revolutionary shift in lesson presentation, UWS might be the largest single institution to issue an iPad to each incoming student and to each faculty member. Earlier this year, the San Diego Unified School District announced it would purchase 26,000 iPads to be used by the district's more than 130,000 students.