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Executive MBA Program Says Good-Bye to Binders and Gives iPads to Incoming Students

By Wisconsin School of Business

September 19, 2016

Innovative effort marks first entire academic program at University of Wisconsin–Madison has gone paperless, leveraging technology to enhance student learning

Students entering the Wisconsin Executive MBA Program at the Wisconsin School of Business this fall were not weighed down with the bulky binders containing hundreds of pages of course materials that have typically welcomed incoming MBAs. Instead, they have received an iPad Pro containing all of their course work, case studies, student handbooks, student directories, and all the resources they need in one sleek, convenient device that weighs less than two pounds.

This is the first time an entire academic program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has made the move to paperless course materials. As the top Executive MBA program in the state and one of the leading public Executive MBA programs in the country, the Wisconsin Executive MBA Program launched this iPad initiative to deliver the best student learning experience and to innovate in providing a premium student experience.

“We have students coming from the healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and finance sectors who are used to working on their own personal devices,” says Leslie Petty, assistant dean for the Wisconsin Evening and Executive MBA programs at the Wisconsin School of Business. “Many of them are executives who travel a great deal, and they want the ease and flexibility that comes with having their course materials and program information on the iPad, as opposed to having to juggle all the binders and paperwork.”

Petty adds, “This is just another innovative approach to learning here at the Wisconsin School of Business. It supports our program’s team-based learning approach by allowing students to work collaboratively and share information on a real-time basis. It also gives faculty the ability to send out instant updates such as sharing the latest article for a discussion that day in class.”

After conducting a survey of students in the Class of 2016 and finding overwhelming support for having an iPad replace traditional binders, Petty says the decision was made to implement the new initiative right away with the incoming Class of 2018 and with all subsequent classes.

“Walking into classrooms and seeing students at every workstation with a cell phone, laptop, or iPad, I knew students were going to be ready for this. It’s time,” says Petty.

Incoming Wisconsin Executive MBA students received a new iPad Pro, along with a pen stylus and carrying case, which comes with a three-year AppleCare warranty on the device. In addition to course materials and student orientation information, the devices are preloaded with all the apps necessary for their courses. While the cost of the iPads is approximately the same as the cost associated with providing approximately 16 binders with 100-plus pages of material to each incoming MBA student, it saves trees.

School and program leaders will assess student learning experiences and technology integration in the coming months.

The plan is to expand the rollout to the Wisconsin Evening MBA Program next fall.