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Australian university to hand out 11,000 iPads to students and staff

Students starting at the University of Western Sydney in Australia in 2013 will be handed the latest iPad to help them with their studies, though what’s the betting it’ll also help them get their best score on Angry Birds Space.

Staff will also receive the fourth-generation 16GB Apple tablet, the university said in a statement announcing the news.

That’s some roll out – 11,000 tablets in all, according to The Australian. The deployment is part of the university’s ongoing Blended Learning Strategy, which it describes as a “cutting-edge learning and teaching” initiative.

“This technology will enable students to engage with the growing number of online services – which will include online lectures, live web streaming of lectures, library services, apps and other tools which aim to provide the best possible learning and university experience,” the university said. “These online and off-campus options will complement face-to-face teaching which will remain core to learning and teaching at UWS.”

UWS vice chancellor Kerri-Lee Krause told The Australian the university was keen to fully embrace digital technology.

“With digital technology revolutionising how we connect and interact with the world, university study should be no different,” Krause said. “Over the next couple of years UWS will challenge some of the traditional lecture-style presentations by including more of the interactive learning that students value so much.”

New students can pick up their tablet on ‘iPad Collection Day’ in January. As for current students, they’ll have to make do with a $50 book voucher.

Tablets in the classroom

While most educational establishments have been well-equipped with desktop computers for years, tablets are rapidly becoming the computing device of choice for many educators. As DT’s Simon Hill says in his piece Tablets are invading the classroom, “touch tablets offer a cheap, and more intuitive alternative to laptops and desktop PCs. They also dispense with the need to carry around bags full of books.”

From university lecture halls all the way down to kindergarten classrooms, the tablet is set to become standard classroom equipment in the coming years. It’s a lucrative market, and one which all the tablet makers will be keen to exploit. While Apple has been doing well up to now with sales of its iPad to the education sector, rivals such as Amazon are also making moves to muscle in on the market, offering discounts to schools on bulk purchases of its Kindle Fire devices.

[Image: Flickr/ebayink]