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Education Portables (Apple) Wireless Networking Hardware

University Tries "One iPhone Per Student" 281

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the enrollment-and-dropout-numbers-to-spike dept.
alphadogg writes to tell us that one freshman class has a little more than usual to be excited about. When students at Abilene Christian University showed up for their first days of class they were greeted with the choice of either a new iPhone 3g or an iPod Touch plus a package of custom web apps to use on them. "The hardware is part of the Texas university's pilot mobile learning project, which has been gestating for over a year. About 650 first-year students chose the iPhone, and about 300 the iPod Touch, which is a very similar device but without the 3G radio (both devices incorporate an 802.11g Wi-Fi adapter). ACU pays for the hardware, student (or their parents) select and pay for their monthly AT&T service plan."
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University Tries "One iPhone Per Student"

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  • Donors (Score:3, Informative)

    by qwertphobia (825473) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:00PM (#25360373)

    Usually it's the donors who give a large chunk of building costs that decide the new facilities should be super-fancy.

    And they have to one-up each other too, so you could also blame the competition.

  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:15PM (#25360573) Journal

    I really don't see any issue. It's a private institution doing an experiment that just might work out for other institutions. Also for those who read the article it mentions that the apps are designed so that in the future one could go with a different phone. So once again audience, where's the problem?

  • by Auxis (1341693) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:18PM (#25360623)
    ... is basically doing the same thing ( http://www.oc.edu/apple/ [oc.edu] ). They are also offering the choice of a Dell, MacBook, or MacBook Pro. Many of the students here chose the iTouch (including me) simply because they didn't want to pay the expensive monthly fees for the iPhone. My service charge would be $90 per month. I just can't afford that price being a student having other debts to pay off (like college tuition). OC released an enterprise app for our iTouch/iPhone that lets us track things such as events going on, which laundry machines are open (through LaundryView), etc. I think it's pretty neat, but I'm not sure if it's worth the price tag.
  • m.acu.edu (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xathrus (1345819) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:49PM (#25361151)
    If you have an iPhone/iPod Touch you can check out their mobile site at m.acu.edu. Of course you have to have an account to log into the myMobile section.
  • by Arramol (894707) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:59PM (#25361291)
    ACU student here. Either your friend went here a very long time ago, or there's been some kind of miscommunication, because the school doesn't have a "no dancing" policy - if we do, somebody ought to tell the school's swing dance club. There are, however, no real dance halls in Abilene, so it's definitely not easy to find places to do it around here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 13, 2008 @05:02PM (#25361337)

    ACU is very strict. They force all students to attend a mass chapel service daily, making them swipe their cards in access slots entering and leaving. Miss two times, and fail all courses in that semester. If you aren't *their* brand of Christian (much less another religion), they don't want you on the campus, and will be happy to have the campus police show you that.

    They also view musical instruments as an abomination against God, and consider churches who have contemporary bands, or even pipe organs heretical.

    I remember the "bells" they use to signal the hour, which in reality are recorded and played via loudspeaker. Of course, one April Fools day, the recording of the bells was replaced by something else.

  • by afidel (530433) on Monday October 13, 2008 @05:03PM (#25361347)
    Actually it was live reporting that was credited in saving several lives at Case Western a few years back, some students were listening to a live broadcast and moving around the building to avoid the attacker.
  • by Arramol (894707) on Monday October 13, 2008 @05:08PM (#25361423)
    ACU teaches that the earth is round, revolves around the sun, and that life evolved via natural selection. The astronomy course I took here didn't even mention the possibility of the earth being young; it was the Big Bang, 4.6 billion year old Earth, etc. "Alternatives" based in pseudo-science and an over-literal reading of Genesis were not even on the table. I've also never had a Bible professor even suggest that the Bible should be treated as a science book - every single one I've talked to on the subject regards the Creation account as metaphorical.
  • Re:Rates (Score:5, Informative)

    by argiedot (1035754) on Monday October 13, 2008 @05:22PM (#25361583) Homepage

    Normally I would have stayed clear of this Apple vs. anti-Apple discussion. However, a sort of irrational bond with my stolen Nokia E65 has prompted me to make the following comments:

    • A Symbian S60 based smartphone (and there are quite a few out there) has the advantage of being easy to synchronise on Windows, OS X, and Linux with minimal adjustment (the last I knew of the iPhone, you had to jailbreak to be able to do Linux. If this is not true anymore, please ignore this comment).
    • S60 is an established, stable, platform and is used by more than just Nokia (Panasonic, LG? Some others I cannot remember). All APIs are publicly documented and parts of the source are available to developers (AFAIK).
    • Nokia has announced that it plans to open-source Symbian and the associated platforms: S60 and UIQ.

    With all this, I would have chosen an S60 phone to work with. It also has the other advantage that if you feel that the phone you've chosen at the moment doesn't quite cut it, you can just provide a more powerful phone later, because S60 is going to be around a long time. You can keep going forward with the same software.

    The slightly more expensive Nokia N96 matches up to the iPhone in most departments, I think, and it is possible that a much less expensive phone will meet the students' needs. Still, maybe they find it more convenient to code with Apple software, in which case the whole argument is moot.

  • Re:Rates (Score:4, Informative)

    by KylePflug (898555) on Monday October 13, 2008 @05:56PM (#25361937) Homepage
    There are tons of apps that turn the iPhone into a wireless mobile drive. I have one that I got for free that uses webdav to make the iPhone a wireless drive that can play/read/display almost any content my laptop can (audio, doc, spreadsheets, pdfs, etc.) I keep all my syllabi and digital readings on it.
  • by grilled-cheese (889107) on Monday October 13, 2008 @06:05PM (#25362055)
    ACU has a tradition of taking calculated risks when it comes to how they do business as an educational institution. This quality is what puts ACU on the map consistently as a leader in education. There are lots of other universities who have tried to pull off programs like this, and many have succeeded. ACU gets this large amount of publicity because it simply is an Apple product that has significant penetration into the student population. Having been involved with the rollout plan for when/how this project was to mature, it could have happened sooner. However, ACU made the decision to wait until there was enough software designed to make this more than just a toy/promotional tool. In fact, the semester before these were handed out several research groups were formed consisting of both students and faculty to determine how these devices could be used most efficiently and even begin to work on their own coding projects to achieve these goals.

    These calculated risks are not just in how they were to be used in an educational setting, but also in the technology implementation. It was a significant challenge to provide that large a scale of wireless access. Having worked on it, I must admit that wireless deployment is an artform in how you balance capacity versus coverage with hundreds of environmental factors affecting your decisions. There are many great pieces of software to try and assist you making the optimal placement choices, but they frequently require large amounts of time for data entry for only a minor change in quality. When it boils down to is still the same procedure that has been used for years; deploy 90% of AP, turn it on and survey it, then use the remaining 10% to fill in the holes you missed. Sofar, most of the risky decisions that were made appear to have payed off and leave only a known portion to be expanded in the future.

    I'm proud to have graduated from this university in May and have the privilege of working with the IS department for several years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 13, 2008 @06:26PM (#25362275)

    Problem is that you arn't told about these things until you either talk to students or enroll for classes there. Should it be up front, it would be understandable.

  • Re:Rates (Score:3, Informative)

    by danielsfca2 (696792) on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:34PM (#25363919) Journal

    Sorry, forgot to mention:

    the phone you've chosen at the moment doesn't quite cut it, you can just provide a more powerful phone later, because S60 is going to be around a long time. You can keep going forward with the same software.

    Do you REALLY think that Apple will break App Store app compatibility? Especially in that direction. Consider:

    Apple made App Store retroactive (so to speak) to the EDGE-based original iphone. This definitely cost them sales of the 3G since if they hadn't, probably some people who have kept their old iPhones would have ebayed 'em and bought the 3G if they couldn't use the App Store on them.

    I bring this up because Apple already did the profit-hurting compatibility preservation, they will obviously do the profit-helping one i describe next:

    If Apple makes a more powerful phone in 24 months, which they no doubt will, and wants to add new features to the API for 3rd party apps they would have every incentive to make it run every App Store app flawlessly by continuing to support all of the old API. And this is FAR more likely to happen on iPhone platform, which is slightly tweaked Real Desktop OS (R) than it is on some embedded OS like Symbian or CE. Not doing so would provide a DISincentive to you and me to buy the new phone ("It's nice but i'd lose some/all my apps!")

    So I dispute that Symbian is a _more_ stable platform likely to be supported in the future. Perhaps it will be equally stable, but it is very doubtful to be more stable considering the size of the two install bases (and by "size" let's say i mean the install base of Symbian users who know what Symbian is and have installed at least 1 third-party app on their phone...since the rest wouldn't care about an API-breaking OS upgrade on the next phone model).

  • Re:Coming... (Score:3, Informative)

    by sahonen (680948) on Monday October 13, 2008 @09:49PM (#25364021) Homepage Journal
    Ipod Touch is much much more than an MP3 player, I don't use mine for music at ALL. For me it's more about having email, internet, youtube etc. access in my pocket without having to haul a laptop.
  • Re:Tuition (Score:4, Informative)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @04:55AM (#25366203) Homepage

    There is a choice. They could opt to get the iPod Touch which doesn't require any extra service. On top of that, they're building an infrastructure to have WiFi everywhere, which means that everyone will be able to use the resources that they're going to create for classes.

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