The newness of the iPad device creates a phenomenon unique and unstudied in the academic environment. By merging the innovations of electronic text, e-reader, and multi-modal functionality, the iPad tablet device can act as an e-reader providing digital course materials as well as a range of other supplementary academic applications. This qualitative research study was designed to explore the how the use of a multi-modal tablet device affects the academic environment. It is the writers' assumption that an increased understanding will aid in the appropriate use of a tablet device to enhance learning. The pilot program in this study included three master's level courses at a regionally accredited college. Data was collected from students through a student survey and focus group interviews and from the faculty through individual interviews. The data collected was coded and organized according to the research questions. Analysis of the findings was organized by way of the study's conceptual framework: (a) usability, (b) disparity between faculty and student perceptions, (c) personal and academic use of a multi-modal device, (d) impact on learning, (e) substitution of printed course materials with digital course materials, and (f) diffusion of innovation. Through this research, it was concluded that the majority of students in this study perceived electronic course materials on an iPad in iAnnotate to be as good as or better than printed course materials, the multi-modal functionality of the Apple iPad augmented personal study and classroom learning, and the personal use positively contributed to academic use of the device. Also, faculty observing students in this study found the iPad had negligible effect on student participation, comprehension, or academic writing. Finally, both students and faculty preferred and recommended digital course materials for students on a tablet device. Recommendations are offered for iPad program administrators, faculty and course developers, course content developers, and for future research. Over the centuries, major shifts in literary technology have circled around usability, durability and ease of reproduction. The successful merging of these factors could diffuse this e-reader innovation and create the next advance in literary technology.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational technology; Graduate students; iPad (Computer)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Gen, Ray;