Since Apple, Inc. released the iPad in April of 2010 the innovative tablet computer has changed not only the way people are able to compute but the ways in which they learn. There is a growing trend in education of going green by replacing textbooks with iPads. Many educational institutions K-12 and Institutes of Higher Learning across the United States are changing the way students learn by introducing iPads into the classroom and as a result impacting the environment.
While desktop and laptop computers have been used in classrooms for a number of years they did not have the same impact as the many iPad pilot programs popping up around the country. iPad pilot programs put an iPad in the hands of each student and teacher participating in the program and makes education more interactive instead of using technology to teach at children. The iPad pilot programs takes students beyond the basic use of computers and teachers students technical skills and programming as well as being used to teach other subjects such as communication and marketing.
iPads have also been used to teach students with Autism and other special needs students.
The benefits of using iPads in the classroom go beyond the increase in digital literacy and increasing students' interest in education. Students can use iPads to submit homework assignments, take notes, and study while teachers can track progress, give assignments, and offer a more individualized learning experience. This application of technology in the classroom reduces paper usage and the overall carbon footprint of the school.
Apple has also conducted a life cycle analysis, a study of firms operations that identifies its impact on the environment, to determine where their greenhouse gas emissions were coming from. What they found was that 98% of their emissions were coming from their products and 2% from their facilities. The company set out to improve the environmental performance of all their products. According to Apple's website they are the only company in their industry that the entire product line excceeds the guidelines of Energy Star specifications. iPads are designed to be more energy efficient by using more efficient power supplies, the use of power management software, and they have components that require less power.
Funding has been a major challenge for schools wanting to implement iPad pilot programs. One suggestion to obtain funds to implement an iPad pilot program is that schools can have app fairs instead of traditional means of raising money such as bake sales. Some schools are gaining funding through textbook and Title I money. Another option may be to ask parents to pay for a portion of the iPad. While asking parents to pay full price for the iPads may not be possible asking parents to donate whatever they can, up to the price of a new iPad may be a great way to get a portion of the needed funds.