In response to the COVID-19 crisis in which Bowdoin College will be conducting nearly all fall semester classes online, the college will issue iPad tablets to each student in the coming weeks.

“This really levels the playing field for the students for whom internet access has been unreliable or non-existent,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Michael Cato in a news release. “This is one example of how Bowdoin can really step into doing online learning well for the fall.”

Students will receive an Apple iPad Pro with available Wi-Fi and cellular data connectivity (activated and covered by the college for those students who have internet connectivity needs), an Apple Pencil 2, and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad, which includes a trackpad.

All interested faculty members and the staff who support teaching and learning will receive iPads that use Wi-Fi only to connect to the internet.

Cato said the iPad Pro model was chosen for its overall functionality — coming closest to a laptop experience while including built-in cellular internet for students who need it — and because apps for the iPad are much more universally available.

He also cited the Pro’s superior camera and processing power to support video conferencing, recording, and editing.


Students will have the opportunity to connect to their classes, build community with each other, and run the same apps and software, at the same performance level, and also receive the same support, regardless of their economic situation.

Faculty will be supported in seeking teaching approaches that make use of the iPad platform, including the high-end cameras, microphone, digital ink—technology that digitally represents handwriting in its natural form—and the ecosystem of apps.

While some students may already have iPads, the intent behind providing the latest model is to ensure consistency of experience, whereby students will have the same access to fall 2020 online classroom activities, some of which will have been designed specifically for this unified platform, according to the release.

“Bowdoin-issued iPads will be able to run all of the applications the College licenses for this platform without students having to buy them on their own,” says Cato.

Additionally, this latest iPad platform has an array of assistive features to better serve students with vision, hearing, mobility, or learning needs.

Bowdoin will cover the cost of the iPad’s internet service for any student who needs that assistance. The iPads are for each student’s use throughout their time at Bowdoin. If, upon graduation, seniors express a need to retain the devices, they may do so for one dollar but are otherwise encouraged to return them so they may be used by other students who will benefit from them.

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