Taylor Lahr, 18, a veterinary tech student at Globe University-Wausau, used the school's Academic Skills Center to get her iPad ready for classes Monday.
Students at Globe University-Wausau won't be lugging around textbooks anymore.
The campus, located at 1480 Highway XX in Rothschild, has gone 100 percent digital, along with its sister campuses across Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. That means that nearly all full-time students will be required to have iPads and all textbooks used by the Minnesota-based for-profit university will be offered on the Apple device.
Students receive scholarships to pay for the iPads, and then will see significant cost savings when purchasing textbooks, said Adam Smrcka, Globe University-Wausau's campus director.
But the university, which offers a variety of associate and bachelor's degrees, took the digital step because the school believes that students will learn faster and better, and instructors will be better able to communicate information, using the devices.
Katie Heisler, 23, a business administration student at Globe, applauds the change. She loves using downloaded digital textbooks because she can do a search and immediately find the information she needs. She also thinks the interactive nature of the device will help her learn and retain information more quickly and easily than using traditional textbooks.
"And it'll save my back, too," she said.
Using iPads to enhance traditional classroom experiences is nothing new. The Wausau School District is in its second year of using the devices for eighth-graders and students at Franklin Elementary School. Merrill Area Public Schools also has begun a program in which students are using tablet computers.
K-12 schools have embraced iPads, Smrcka said, but so far as he knows, Globe is the first post-secondary institution to go all digital.
The first day of fall quarter classes began Monday, and it was also the first day many students used their iPads at Globe. The school's Academic Skills Center was tech central as students came in to get help downloading apps and textbooks and setting up their machines.
Smrcka said that because the program is so new, everybody - including instructors - is learning how to use the tablets. He's excited about the impact of the devices on student learning now, but says the school is just beginning to explore the educational potential of the digital learning environment.
"This is where (education) is going," Smrcka said. "And this will put our students in the forefront of the workplace environment, because this is what businesses are doing."
Lynda Pilot, an English instructor at Globe, sees an expanded ability to reach students using the device.
"I think it will optimize student engagement," Pilot said. "It's getting them excited about what they're learning."