Book bags at the Yale School of Medicine got a little bit lighter this semester. In the coming weeks, the school plans to give each student an iPad 2. The program is about half done, and when complete it should add up to about 520 iPads.

Starting this semester, students will be able to download all support materials for their entire curriculum. It’s also going to be coming with some custom apps, because students willl also be able to read and handle confidential patient health information and that requires HIPAA certification that can’t be found in most apps.

The costs of the program provide a telling detail into whether its worth the expense. The new hardware is going to cost around $600 thousand, and the school spent about $100 thousand each year to copy, collate, organize, and distribute course materials.

Of course, money isn’t the only reason to switch to iPads. Students in the pilot program that was run last year were pleased with the reams and reams of class notes that they no longer had to carry around. “We get binder upon binder of notes, literally several feet of notes, and carrying them to the library or to class is just unrealistic,” Robert Stretch said.

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