This wasn’t what I had originally wanted to write about for the first post, but I’ll get to that at a later date. For now, I’m going to jump in and discuss the news and marketing that Seton Hill will be providing all of their students with an iPad. One of the strange things I noticed, is that there is no mention of that fact anywhere on their homepage.
My guess is that details are still being worked out, and probably language is being written (if it hasn’t already) to break the news that (presumably) current students are ineligible to receive an iPad. Yes, the ad says that it will go to all full-time students in 2010, but I kind of think it won’t happen. I guess I’m a bit more of a cynic than I thought, but really, it’s not that relevant to this post I suppose. This whole paragraph has been speculation, just so you know.
I actually first read the news on a Seattle-based news blog, which has since followed up with an interesting story that points out that many students retain more knowledge from words on a printed page, versus a screen. This fact is one we discussed many times in web design courses, and one that makes the advent of ebooks tough on publishing houses I think.
Think about it, the easiest thing to do is to just take the manuscript of a book, put it into ebook format and release it. If it is hard to read, well then that is the fault of the hardware the user has invested in. Eink is slated to make reading on a screen much easier on the eyes, although I have yet to be really impressed with any e-reader or tablet (but I’m expecting that to change in the next five to ten years).
And of course, the limitations of the iPad are widely known (one proprietary input jack, lock-down of software), but those are actually more suited to discussion in The Great and Secret Show, so I’ll leave them be for now.
The striking similarity however, and one that I’m sure others noticed, is this is the same deal, just updated, that Grove City College ran (I could not find information on whether or not their program was still going on): all incoming freshmen were welcomed to campus by a new laptop and printer (and strict rules to not walk on the grass, rules which have since been relaxed from what I can gather). It’s the same idea, just updated for 2010.
Grove City College is a whole different beast, although I don’t think the free laptop was high on the list for enrolling students. Will this have a measurable affect on applications and incoming class size? We won’t know until next year, and even then, only if Seton Hill decides to divulge that information (and even then, we’ll have to look through the spin).
But I do like the Web page (pictured above), it’s clean, simple, much like Mac. It could do a better job driving prospective students to apply, and it looks as though it was used as a splash page, maybe on the day it was officially announced, thankfully that is not the case at the moment (very annoying, even if it is providing a way to geek out). I am surprised the logo in the lower right is for Mac, and not Apple, seems a bit of a wavering of Steve Job’s branding of everything Apple and i-related. And again I wonder why there is no news story, or even mention on Seton Hill’s home page, at best it seems inconsistent, or even ashamed. But I will be interested to see if other schools, especially schools in the area pick up the same kind of promotion.