Disruptive Technologies

Course site for Disruptive Technologies. Exploring identity, community, & design.


iPad in the classroom – SWOT Analysis – Team Right Shark


An iPad in the classroom will help students tremendously. The device is intuitive enough where students will not need to be taught how to use it. It will provide students with access to the internet, social networking, and an infinity of learning apps and tools that will enhance the classroom experience. Students will no longer need to carry a bundle of books, notebooks, pens, laptops, cameras, etc. They will be substituted by ebooks, e-pens, e-notes, etc.

Using an iPad in the classroom makes it more interactive, engaging, and embodies a culture of creativity.


iPads are unable to perform some functions that desktop or laptop computers can perform. For students in certain majors this means much of their coursework couldn’t be completed using the iPad, somewhat making it a redundant device.
Studio Art and Digital Art students frequently make use of the Adobe suite.
Music and Music Technology students use DAWs like Ableton Live and Logic
Computer Science and Information Systems students especially would need a computer for the following tasks:
Running an IDE like Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, or Netbeans
The Java JDK and JRE
Access to the filesystem for reading, writing, and executing files
Being able to install platforms or languages like ruby, python, node.js

Digital art and music software is available in Staller Center SINC sites, and after hours access is provided for students enrolled in these courses (although many students do still choose to use their own computers for working at home).

If comp sci students are then the exception, it makes sense that they would be the ones that require additional computing hardware.


The opportunities that would be made possible with a student body that functions primarily on iPads have the ability to affect the University on a physical level. Space currently occupied by the bookstore could be repurposed and the amount of space devoted to books could be reduced. Instead, the library could focus on ebooks and resource sharing that could reach beyond the campus. More space could be designated to meetings spaces that foster an interactive learning environment. It could also have a recharging center.


With every major decision made there are bound to be some threats. Some threats that we as a team foresee associated with providing iPad Airs to all students stem from current partnerships with companies who heavily rely on paper. If these paper reliant companies do not make the choice to go more digital we could see their monetary support decreasing substantially. Assuming we can cope with the loss of our dead tree partnerships, the next hurdle we as a university must overcome would be the redesigning of existing spaces that are not equipped to handle the influx of this quantity of tech. Pushing this new tech on our current infrastructure will be detrimental since many problems arise now with less devices connected. This will cost quite a bit. Assuming redesigning goes well, we now have to worry about push back from faculty, staff, and students. The reasons for their resistance can be as numerous as the amount of students but a bit of good public relations should change most minds. With the entire student body equipped with iPad Airs the university must look at redefining academic dishonesty at include the new tech. After all is said and done if Apple ever tanks as a company we as a university are in grave danger.

These threats, although numerous and very real, do NOT outweigh the benefits of providing iPad Airs to all the students to enhance their college experience. The potential for creativity and innovation will put this university in a light to which no other learning environment has ever seen.

SWOT Analysis – Are iPads ‘Too Disruptive?’

Strength: Provide a Baseline Technology

When collaborating on projects, Google Drive and apps allow for easy communication and data sharing. Too often, we encounter students who are not comfortable using drive and other productivity/content creation-geared applications. Sometimes, collaborators seem resistant because they are not yet comfortable.

Although these applications are available for desktop platforms, the mobility of the iPad apps allows the user to bring the technology, and the ability to create content into any collaborative or meeting space. The iPads are slim, portable, and a pleasure to use. With workflow adapting to such a portable, multitask oriented utility, we will change what it means to do group work.

If every student possessed an iPad, everyone would be exposed to the applications and have a baseline vocabulary associated with the technology. Time will no longer be spent on getting everyone acquainted with the technology.

When every student can operate with utilities that improve workflow and collaboration, communities will be quicker to innovate and produce work.

Let the information flow.


Weakness: Can’t Do Everything a Laptop Can

  • No USB port – The lack of a USB port on the iPad Air means it is not possible to use external hard drives and other external devices like keyboards or microphones that use USB.
  • Limited amount of storage space – A laptop or desktop computer is able to use external hard drives or add RAM for memory storage but an iPad is not due to the lack of a USB port.
  • No external keyboard – Although it is possible to purchase a bluetooth keyboard for the iPad air, it only comes equipped with a touchscreen keyboard which can slow down productivity.
  • No disk drive for CDs and DVDs
  • Desktop Apps – There are many desktop apps that are too powerful to run on an iPad. Applications like Microsoft Office and Final Cut Pro won’t run on iPads and tablets. There are scaled down versions of apps like Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft OneNote.
  • File formats – Laptops are able to display or play almost any file type if you have the right software/program. iPads are not able to play every file type, video files must be in .mp4 format before they are able to play. A solution to this problem would be converting the file format on the iPad. Also, all transferring of files to the iPad has to be done via iTunes.
  • Screen Resolution – The iPad Air Retina display renders at 2048 by 1536 resolution. The screen is 9.7 inches, measured diagonally. In comparison, Apple’s 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display has a higher resoltuion of 2560 x 1600 pixels. The 15.4-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display has an even higher resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels.


Opportunity: Reduce in Paper (SBU’s Eco-Footprint)

iPads for everybody offers an excellent opportunity for the Stony Brook community to reduce it’s eco-print by using less paper. By using free .pdf reader apps that are available, students can upload reading assignments, class notes, and e-books to their iPads which means they don’t need to print out long readings or buy expensive books – which all use paper. Not only would SBU reduce its eco-print, they would also reduce costs; perhaps part of the cost of getting the iPad could be offset by reducing expenditures on paper. Even though there might be a learning curve for students as they get used to accessing, reading, and taking notes on .pdfs using their iPads, the benefits of using less paper is well worth the effort. In addition to the immediate ecological benefits, and possible reductions in cost, Stony Brook University has the opportunity to stand out as a leader in higher education by using new technology to improve both the quality of education and the quality of life on campus for students, teachers, staff, and the environment.


Threat: Potential for New Forms of Academic Dishonesty

When looking at potential threats concerning the introduction of iPads to a university setting,  qualms that professors may have immediately comes to mind: the potential for new forms of academic dishonesty (in the classroom). With the internet at a student’s fingertips, they could possibly look up their answers on Google, or be chatting with their friends for help while in class. Yes, most students now have smartphones, but if a university provides iPads, it would be the understood authorization that the iPads are allowed in class. However, a simple re-focusing of the coursework model could fix that. Grading could come in part from class discussion through Google Docs (which generally works better than discussion portals within classroom management sites such as Blackboard or Moodle) in which each comment is digitally signed (by color-coding or other symbol). By everyone claiming their own work, and allowing others to comment and help edit, final products are usually better. Tests would still be “technology free,” meaning that students would not have easy access to communicate with others.

It comes down to what the purpose of the classroom and higher education construct is. Do we lead students to be smarter than everyone else and perpetuate a model of “I have better grades [read: am better, smarter] than you?” Or do we instill a CoP framework that encourages community learning toward an end-goal of contributing to something that is larger than all of us? Collaborative learning is a far cry from academic dishonesty—everyone still gets credit for what they do.

This post itself represents four unique styles of writing that came together in a collaboration on Google Docs. In that file, you can see exactly what each person wrote, and the comments that were left to help come up with a final project.

SWOT Outcomes

I’ve added the slides we generated during the SWOT Analysis to this post for you to reference as you work on your weekly posts. If you think of additional Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats please leave them as a comment below. The original scenario is included as is the wrap up slide that can guide you in your work.

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