This year students of Ohio State's incoming freshman class each received Apple iPad Pro with a case, keyboard, and pen at orientation as a part of a Digital Flagship initiative, a "comprehensive, university-wide digital learning initiative to support educational innovation for students and economic development opportunities for the community." Their goal is to provide each student with a technological resource and to promote experience with coding and design. The iPad is technically owned by the university until graduation, but students can still use it for personal (and legal) purposes.

When I first heard of this at the end of the last school year, I thought cool … now I bought a laptop for nothing. At orientation, the presenters pushed using the iPad to take notes and basically structured it as necessary to succeeding in class as a hand to write with. Once again, I was skeptical — I've always preferred to take notes with paper and pen rather than on a screen, even with the added Apple pen. Never an avid watcher of Netflix, the iPad sat on my desk the rest of the summer except for the few occasions I took it out to display and brag to my friends that it was THE free iPad from THE Ohio State University.

Now, over halfway through the semester, my feelings toward this device have changed. I have discovered the power of the pen -- the main thing I use the iPad for is annotating and reading online texts and PDFs, which is a lot more difficult to accomplish on my laptop. It is harder to lug a laptop to class than the sleek and portable iPad. I use my laptop to type papers and access programs too complex or clunky to work on the iPad, but otherwise, I use the iPad. Today I cannot imagine what a miserable life the upperclassmen must be living.

I asked five other freshmen to describe their experience with/feelings toward their iPad in one sentence. Here are their responses:

  1. It has been helpful and easily accessible, but there are some things it can't do.
  2. Love (insert smiley emojis) … but actually, I love how everything is so compact and accessible.
  3. Can't live with it, can't live without it.
  4. My iPad has proved to be a great learning tool both inside and outside of the classroom.
  5. I love my iPad because it allows me to take better notes.