Let’s get technological

Jonathan Rienstra

I want an iPad. Or Kindle. Or Kno. Whatever.

I want the University to give whichever to me and I want it to give one to you as well. “I want” is a dirty way to continue this discussion, so instead, I am going to substitute “we need” the rest of the way.

Everyone will win if UT President William Powers Jr. will put an iPad with my name on it (or yours) up for sale, at a discount price of course, at the University Co-op. Hell, they can even make it burnt orange since everything else in the world is sold there in such a style.

Actually, let’s go one step further in this scenario and make the inside of the Kindle/iPad/whatever burnt orange as well — as in, you pick up an iPad from the Co-op that has been loaded with all the textbooks for your classes. Likewise, give all the teachers iPads that they can use to control the PowerPoint, lectures and what not. The best part is that, because the textbooks are already on the iPad that everyone is using to not play Angry Birds, those PowerPoints can be integrated into the digital textbook.

It’s no secret that textbooks are rarely found in classrooms. In fact, textbooks usually only hang out in libraries and on your bookshelf at home. This seems backwards to me. Why go to class and not use a textbook? Because they are heavy and cumbersome and this isn’t high school anymore. But having your textbooks on a tablet would allow them to be used by the professor instead of being either cast aside or considered as supplemental to lectures.

This marriage of classrooms and textbooks will put the University on the cutting edge. It is always easy to be reactionary, to wait until it becomes the norm before you act.

But I say screw dipping your toes in to check the temperature. Let’s be actionary.

I just made that word up. Which is a total actionary move on my part. The University can be actionary can take action by moving away from archaic tomes that are outdated and behind the curve on their subject matter by the time they get published. That’s a painful thing to say for a newspaper guy like myself, but it is the honest truth.

Few people collect textbooks in the manner that they collect novels, so that whole “I-just-like-the-feel-of-a-book-in-my-hand” argument is half-baked at best.

Plus, it will be the future. It’ll be the Jetsons (if we get Kindles) or Star Trek (if we get iPads). Either way we go with this, the most important part to remember is that by being in the future we are that much closer to hoverboards.

Also, it would be easier to achieve balance if your backpack had just one little tablet instead of 30 pounds of paper, and that’s true regardless of whether you are hovering or not.

It won’t be easy to convince textbook publishers to give up their racket of releasing new editions every two years, but if anyone can be actionary, it’s a school with the clout and purchasing power we wield. The University needs to be the mover and shaker on this one, not content to wait until others have told us the water is fine. A much more actionary move is to make the water the temperature you want, and giving me an iPad is the how to do that.