EXCLUSIVE: UAE colleges to ditch books for iPads

New students enrolling will have to buy new tablets; campuses to remove paper and pens

(AFP/Getty Images)

(AFP/Getty Images)

The UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), the country’s largest higher education institution, has struck a deal with a local Apple supplier, worth nearly AED50m ($13.4m), which will see UAE campuses remove paper and pens from classrooms and become the first in the region to roll out iPad-only lessons.

The HCT is due to hold a press conference next week to announce the details of the scheme but Arabian Business has learned that iPads are already being distributed to the more than 21,500 students attending 17 colleges throughout the UAE.

A source at a HCT college told Arabian Business returning students will receive iPads free from their colleges, but new students enrolling for the first time are required to buy new tablets from the officially designated vender.

Computer Direct Access (CDA), which is part of the Midis (MDS) Group of Companies and has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has been awarded the contract to supply the devices.

While iPad 3 tablets retail in the UAE at around AED2,500 ($680), a CDA salesperson confirmed students will be offered the devices at a special discount price of AED2,299 ($625). Students are allowed to use iPad 2 tablets, but CDA said these were currently out of stock.

With around 21,500 students and 2,000 staff members, Arabian Business estimated the scheme could cost around AED49.5m ($13.5m) to implement.

Students have been offered two methods of payment: They can pay cash and receive their iPad directly from their college or the HCT has struck a deal with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) where students can go to one of the lender’s 17 branches and make their payment.

The initiative, known as iPadagogy, is a bid to create a wholly paperless educational environment and eliminate the use of paper and pens on campuses and will see all coursework and literature online and administered in a digital format.

The HCT began training teachers in the use of iPads during the summer and a staff member said all text books and teaching aids were being removed from classrooms.

A staff member claimed students would be reprimanded for continuing to use paper and pens and said there was “a lot of uncertainty from the teachers on how it's going to work.”

The move towards using iPad education is not a new phenomenon and is being rolled out in many colleges around the world. From the US to Korea, around 62 of the top 100 schools in the world are engaged in similar initiatives. In the commercial world, companies such as British Airways, Air France, IBM, Cisco Systems, the US Air Force and General Electric are rolling out similar systems.

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Posted by: Mel

Well, iPad is only a tool or instrument for learning. There is no substitute to the basics. When they hit technical problem without their iPad or laptop, they become nothing!

You must have seen college students unable to compute without calculator or can't fill up a simple form or questionnaire with pen.
These iPads generation are 'cut-and-paste' generation. Computer literate as they may be.

But plain and simple job they can't do. Their mind is wired to the computer only. Without computer, they can not work or perform simple task.

Posted by: ilyn

very well said.... you are absolutely right mr. mel. thank you for sharing your point of view.

Posted by: MMM

Most of you that comment here havent experienced a classroom with iPads. I was at a Canadian university in Toronto this summer for a short class of 21 odd students. 17 of us including me were in the classroom with only iPads. No notebooks, no pens nothing on the table except an iPad and some had bluetooth keyboards. Using applications such as Evernote (my case) and others had their own preference in different note taking iPad apps.

What's common with these notes is that they all record audio and the notes we take in are marked along with the audio. Sometimes, we raise the iPad to take a picture on the slideshow or use iPhone to do so then link it to the notes via iCloud. So you can head back home and go through your notes and if something isn't clear, re play the audio exactly at that point or refer to our camera shot of the slide.

So, mine and our peer experience, iPads are a great learning tool.

Posted by: Joe

I was in a very complex class. And iPad has an extended use. Trust me. Once you are in that environment you will know. I can't think of going back to pen and paper. But ofcourse pen and paper can compliment iPad.

Posted by: Wildwine

I think most of those who have commented here are not referring to "short classes"; but extensive courses related to complex subjects (e.g. Economics, Investment Analysis, Applied Mathematics, Political Science, History, Statistics, Management Theory etc.etc.).
I may be outdated, but I do not see how such subjects can be taught with no paper / pen and with only iPad; that has very limited use.

Posted by: Zahi

We Should embrace Technology but not forget the fundamentals...
our kids in the furute will not be able to write properly,if wew go to the extreme we will lose our humanity.
Kids now adays don't do sports (unless it is on game consoles)
they don't go out socializing (only on face book) and if they go out it is to be gangsta's
a Strange future is ahead

Posted by: PPM

You cannot type at high speed on a tablet and while my son and every other student is busy recording university lectures etc. using their phones to record audio, photos and video they then write everything up at home using proper keyboards, not screen-tapping joke keyboards designed only for making inane facebook comments.
The only use for a tablet is as a handy book store but - there is absolutely no reason nor justification for mandating one tablet over another. In fact, the versatility of other tablets over the ipad means that wiser heads would probably have suggested that they should not be used.
The reason that no other university elsewhere has gone down this path is partially because they are run by unbiddable boards and partially because their students would have just decamped to other institutions but mostly because such a wild idea would have had to have been debated in the open and would have been resoundingly shot down.

Posted by: hamid

Unfortunately most of the people commenting here did not read the article carefully. It says Colleges are going to use iPads ..not Schools. So you go to school for 12 years you will learn handwriting in those 12 years. And I dont know how many of you went to university recently. But NOBODY in university is writing assignments are essays or research paper or any sort of project in the hand Written format. Its all done by computers. And universities are not saving costs by doing so. Because Students buy the books separately and the price of each book varies from 200 DHS up to 800 DHS for each course. Most of the teachers dont even use the book as an study material. They rely on slides that comes with the book and they mostly use slides and class discussions. Implementation of iPad is only for the convenience of students and teachers. They use all these devices anyways, But now they can be productive with those devices. Up to date and synced with teacher. having online access to library

Posted by: Doug

You say that the method of teaching will change with the iPad. How? You already said it wouldn't make any difference. So either you're getting confused or you're just trying to make things fit. Don't you think it's wrong that a technology university makes its students learn using just one piece of proprietary technology that will be obsolete in 2 years' time? You've also reiterated my point, you complain that if you handwrite a note, you can't read it. That's an argument in favour of practising your handwriting, not in favour of ditching paper for iPads.

Once again, I don't have a problem using iPads as part of a learning strategy. But I think it's wrong to be wholly dependent on just one proprietary technology for your entire course. It is not right to penalise the students who wish to take notes by hand. You say yourself your fellow students use many methods to take notes - why limit to just one method?

Posted by: hamid

I dont know about other Universities in UAE. But In my university (AUD) Laptops are allowed in many class rooms and many class rooms have computers in front of every student. They are taking notes on their computers or some others record voice of their teachers while lecturing. The point is that you think we only replace paper by iPad.. but the reality is the style of teaching will completely change to adopt with the new implementation of the IPAD. for sure there would be some plugs added for battery. And of course the ipads will have locked features only for In class use. we have many of our exams done with computers and we simply cant cheat. Even though the computers have access to internet and everything while exam. Because they are people in class controlling us not to cheat. when u type a note u can actually read them.rather than trying to write it with pen and have bad handwritting cause of rushing and wont be able to read. anyways the teaching method will adopt for sure.

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