Due to the “do it this way every time” nature of their profession, accountants aren’t known for breaking the mold. “Cutting edge accounting” sounds like either an oxymoron or something that could lead to a prison sentence. So, although more and more educators are discovering the value in the classroom of new technology like the iPad, you might not expect to see an accounting professor leading the charge at UAFS.
But for Dr. George Schmidt and the students in his iPad-based Accounting Information Systems courses, it’s not about being cutting edge. In fact, says Schmidt, requiring students to do the bulk of their work on the iPad is simply preparing them for the realities of the workplace. “This is where accounting is right now. Imagine where it’ll be in five years,” he says. “Students who don’t know this technology won’t get those jobs.”
While few people argue the efficacy of the iPad as a teaching and learning tool, one of the primary obstacles to its use in the classroom is its roughly $500 price tag—a hefty investment to require of students. At UAFS, though, a corporate sponsorship from Beall Barclay and an anonymous gift to the UAFS Foundation made it possible for the University to purchase an iPads for every one of Schmidt’s students to use for the semester.
Schmidt and his students—as well as Beall Barclay and that anonymous donor—may in fact be at the vanguard of something big. Because, although iPads seem expensive now, they have the potential to in fact be extremely cost-effective. Take, for example, Schmidt’s class. Last year, the hardcover version of the required textbook cost $321, while the electronic version, which students purchased for their iPads, was just $92. With that kind of savings, an iPad could easily pay for itself by the end of a student’s first year of college.
Sparking change like that—by making it possible for the University to pursue exciting new ideas that might otherwise be out of reach—is one of the most important impacts of private giving.