This is something I never would have expected.  From The Chronicle of Higher Education comes an article by Doug Ward, who teaches courses in editing, reporting, history and innovation at the University of Kansas:

News that all the graduate students in my Future of Media seminar would receive iPads for the semester generated a flurry of excitement.

Some students replied with exclamation points in their email messages. Some stopped and asked when the iPads would be available. Others passed on word to classmates and seemed to enjoy the envious responses.

Then something odd happened: The students, all in their mid- to late 20s, became self-conscious about carrying iPads. They refused to use them in public. They felt elitist. In their eyes, the iPad represented snobbery, a technological tool that no one needed and whose utility was far from apparent. Used to a graduate student frugality, they didn’t want to be seen as profligate.

Thanks to Michael von Glahn for the link.


  1. Why would carrying an iPad around be any different than carrying around a similarly priced laptop? You don’t necessarily have to have that specific technology, but if it is useful, and utilized properly, the iPad can be a wonderful tool for learning. I agree with Robert’s comment about the smartphones, but would add that they are also likely carrying a laptop with a similar (or in some cases, higher) price tag.

  2. “Elitist” attitudes are often exaggerated, a knee-jerk result of someone having any expensive item that others cannot afford (or think they cannot afford). Eventually, everyone else manages to get the device, and the “elitism” goes away. Robert is correct in mentioning smartphones: The same thing happened with them.

    Based on the article’s comments, it sounds like different places have very different reactions to iPads on campus. I wouldn’t put too much stock in this; within 2-3 years, it will completely blow over.

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