The paperless classroom is on the way in the Gulf as the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), the country’s largest higher education institution, is planning to remove paper and pens from classrooms and become the first in the region to roll out iPad-only lessons.
The Gulf university has reportedly struck a deal with a local Apple supplier, worth approximately AED50m (QAR 49.5m) which will see UAE campuses throughout the country do away with convention and enter the new digital age with a bang – (or indeed an Apple!) The initiative, 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 move online and be 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 HCT is to hold a press conference announcing the details of the scheme but already iPads are being distributed to the more than 21,500 students attending 17 colleges throughout the UAE. It is thought 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 vendor.
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 according to Arabian Business. While iPad3 tablets retail in the UAE at around AED2500 (QAR 2480), a CDA salesperson confirmed students will be offered the devices at a special discount price of AED2299 (QAR 2280) they reported.
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. Students are allowed to use iPad 2 tablets, but CDA worryingly said these were currently out of stock. With around 21,500 students and 2,000 staff members, it is estimated the scheme could cost around AED49.50 to implement.
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.
What’s your thoughts, should the same scheme be rolled out here? Are paperless classrooms the way forward or will there always be a place for books in hte classroom? Tell us your thoughts.