A little more than 6,000 incoming freshmen and graduate teaching assistants were qualified to receive the iPads, which is the first step of the University of Kentucky’s bigger Smart Campus plan. An April news release by the UK stated the objectives of the Smart Campus as “increasing persistence and graduation rates while training students for lives of meaning and purpose.”
Initially, the Smart Campus group planned to give iPad Pros to 2,000 college students in target populations. According to Heath Price, affiliate chief information officer, data from the UK’s Wi-Fi network shows that 70% of the units that communicate with the UK’s network are iOS. Which means students are coming in with iPhones and are familiar with the Apple ecosystem.
However, a high-quality laptop computer is cost-prohibitive. Before Apple introduced the brand new iPad Air in March, UK had identified 2,000 students in target populations to pilot the plan, said Price. iPad Pros cost about $300 more than the brand new Airs. That gap made it possible for the pilot to be scaled up to include all incoming freshmen.
Some freshmen have had their iPad for months now, having received their iPad during “seeblueU” orientation.
However, the iPad initiative didn’t end with the distribution. Instead, college, staff, and students are part of an ongoing exercise that’s just commencing.
In this first year, some details of the iPad plan still need to be decided, said Abbie Loynachan, director of the Smart Campus mission.
As the iPad program evolves, the Smart Campus group is hoping to add more apps to Self Service, including apps that have to be purchased. The iPads came pre-loaded with a few apps recommended by the UK.