Dion's random ramblings

Friday, February 29, 2008

A University is giving out FREE Apple iPhones or iPod Touch's to all first year students.

A few years ago when I was invited to Duke University I was amazed to discover that all 'freshmen' (basically, in South Africa we would call them first year students) received an iPod when they came to study at the University.

As an aside, I also heard the other day that Duke University is the first ever community wide 802.11n network to be established over a whole municipal area! When I visited I had my old 12" Powerbook with an iSight camera and used the free wifi on campus to call home to my family (doing video chat) for hours at a time! It was like being home!

Well, here's a related story! Wouldn't it be great if we had the resources to offer our first year students a free laptop, or an iPhone or iPod touch (with video tutorials, Audio of lectures, and a hard drive full of PDF's etc.)... We do something similiar (in a VERY small way on our Seminary Campus - all students get a free flash disk at the start of the year (not only does it save paper since we can put PDF's of the rules and regulations, the yearbook, and other useful documents on the drives, but it also helps us to avoid the complaint that 'the dog ate my assignment'!)

This story comes from TAUW:

Abilene Christian University is announcing a pilot program to provide an iPhone or iPod touch to every new student. At first glance, I found myself wondering: if some colleges are providing MacBooks with tuition, doesn't an iPhone seem like a less-expensive attempt to lure new blood? Upon further consideration, I think there are some distinct advantages to a pocket-sized device in a learning environment. From constant connectivity to ultra-portability, it could provide a means for every student to access learning materials any time, from any place.

ACU has obviously considered this, and then some. With apparently well-coordinated plans to take advantage of the devices ? including podcasts, mobile-accessible class materials, active-learning strategies and a re-focusing of the campus media ? they're preparing to take maximum advantage of the iPhone/iPod touch possibilities. If it's a gimmick, it sure seems like a useful, well-thought-out one. For more information, case studies and future plans, take a peek at the ACU Mobile Learning page.

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