It used to be that universities would offer discounts on the purchase of new computers. Then a number of them went so far as to offer a laptop as part of the tuition. Now we're hearing that one enterprising university, Seton Hill, is planning to give every full-time student starting in the Fall, 2010 an iPad. The iPad will come as part of the school's Technology Advantage Program, and is expected to offer the students' textbooks via download from the iBook Store.
According to TUAW, Seton Hill University is also offering its first year undergrad students a 13-inch MacBook to use.
I really like the concept of a university giving an iPad to every student. For one, the fact that it is planning to offer all of its textbooks via the iBook Store is finally the adoption that's needed to get students away from the physical paper textbook. The Kindle DX was supposed to be taking this market by storm, but I think it's a bit too big for every student to embrace. Also, the fact that it's pretty much just an eReader makes it a harder sell. Contrast that with the iPad, which not only can handle eBook responsibilities but also provide internet access, e-mail, and a whole lot more, and it's starting to become pretty clear why Seton Hill University would standardize on the iPad as a device to give each student.
I'm definitely interested in seeing how this works out. If all goes well we could see every university looking to Seton Hill's model as the future of textbook delivery and consumption.