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Education Portables (Apple) Wireless Networking Hardware

University Tries "One iPhone Per Student" 281

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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  • Rates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jadedoto ( 1242580 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:28PM (#25359911)
    Now do the students have to pay the extra surcharge that offsets the cost of the phones, or does the University pick up that tab as well?
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt.nerdflat@com> on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:32PM (#25359967) Journal
    iPhone plans are bloody expensive... the plans start at over double what even a very robust normal cell phone plan would cost. Unless you need one for work and your company can pick up the tab, I'm inclined to think that they are just a money sink.
  • Oh my... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rodrigoandrade ( 713371 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:34PM (#25360001)
    The length some universities will go to justify their ridiculously high tuition fees...
  • by Warll ( 1211492 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:37PM (#25360035) Homepage
    From the summary: "student (or their parents) select and pay for their monthly AT&T service plan."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:38PM (#25360049)
    At least then the students would have a general-purpose computer to do work on.
  • ESR would be proud (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rinisari ( 521266 ) * on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:39PM (#25360069) Homepage Journal

    The Cathedral [apple.com] versus the Bazaar [google.com].

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:45PM (#25360159) Homepage

    because every time the cost goes up, the politicians go all "rising costs of education!!!" and give them more money. My econ prof called it the "cookie monster" effect. Colleges go "Me want cookie!!!!" and spend $$$ on this, and super-fancy new buildings with HD video projectors in every classroom, and clubhouses for their sports teams, and what-not... om nom nom nom.... and, when they're done, there's another cookie there waiting for them! Rinse and repeat. Wonderful incentive structure there, no? Mmmmhmm....

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:47PM (#25360175) Homepage

    It would be much more productive to give them a lightweight PC and free, Campus-wide WiFi so they can call people via VOIP.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:48PM (#25360193)

    No I think it is due more to poor administration of funds.

    In my undergrad this was the case:
    Every Department gets a budget. If they don't fully use that budget then the next year their budget will get cut. This created an effect where departments will wast money on a whole bunch of little things just so they can get more next year. So say the computer science department will need to find a way to spend 20k each year so they will have money budgeted for when their computers actually get out of date.

    Then there are professors who keep their door locked and closed during their office hours so they won't be bothered (while they are getting paid)

    Spending millions of dollars on these big events to attract politicians and other big names to boost up the prestigious level of the college. Putting in new "High Tech" Buildings where they just need some more internet cable spread across the building...

  • Re:Rates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:49PM (#25360215) Homepage Journal
    I can think of Departments that have OS specific requiremetns (Specifically Windows). Mind you, this is because the applications they require students to use are not available for other OS's. Engineering programs routinely have this trouble.
  • by kiwimate ( 458274 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:52PM (#25360241) Journal

    Just...read the article. Okay? Answers all this. They didn't just do this at random; the question of laptops is discussed.

    One example of what they're doing: (from the first page, I think): an interactive map, useful for the new students to find their way around campus in the first week.

    Okay, another example: used for real-time polls conducted in classes.

    Not necessarily anything that couldn't be done with a laptop, but please, read the article and then we can have a semi-intelligent discussion on the actual issues?

  • by stormesj ( 701697 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @03:56PM (#25360299) Homepage
    Get a free happy meal toy with each and every degree.
  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:00PM (#25360355) Homepage

    Well, that depends on whether your goal was to have the Feds fund a really nice stadium, a brand-new library building full of Internets, a student body full of iPhones, and HD projectors in every classroom.... or simply providing young adults with an affordable high-quality college education. At a minimum it's not really proving that good at addressing Affordability.

  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:02PM (#25360383) Homepage Journal

    Can we get some realistic math for once? Attending a private school like ACU costs close to $110K for four years [acu.edu]. A fancy $300 PDA doesn't even begin to account for that.

    Also, colleges now rely heavily on the web and email for communicating with students. Bulletins, class schedules, online study materials, web-based paperwork... It's efficient and cheap. This works better if everybody has a standard device that works the same way with the campus WiFi network. Usually, colleges accomplish this by making all the students buy a standard laptop or tablet.

    That route makes sense to me, but I can guess why the ACU people went the PDA route. People take their PDAs everywhere, so ACU can get information out to the entire student body quickly. That makes for a convenient fact to cite when parents want to know what the school is doing to prevent another Virginia Tech.

  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:03PM (#25360401) Homepage Journal

    Pssst. There nothing in Christianity that would prevent someone from going dancing, unless by 'Christianity' you mean something other than living your life according to the principles espoused by the figure known as 'Christ' in the Gospels and accepting that same person as your 'personal Lord and Savior' (whatever that may mean for you).

    Full disclosure: I was once but am no longer Christian; however, I understand more about Christianity than most people who would call themselves 'Christian'.

  • Re:Coming... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marc.andrysco ( 1173073 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:06PM (#25360435) Homepage
    Personally, I would be seriously pissed if I knew that some of my tuition was going to pay for an iPod/iPhone. I don't want an iPhone because Verizon has been working perfectly fine for me so far and I'm not about to switch. I don't want an iPod touch since since, after all, I've been perfectly content without an mp3 player at all. Great, it might be useful to some classes when a professor decides to integrate it into their class. How many classes are going to require this? Would a laptop (which I already own) suffice instead? I don't really don't want to get stuck with a single company force feeding me their products because of the university I attend. Give me some third party options at the very least. What gets me so epically pissed is that they pass it off as ACU paying for it when we know where that money comes from: tuition aka students.

    Granted, I have some classes where internet access is more or less a must, but I'd rather have a nice, full keyboard and a reasonable screen that I can put my own software on rather than being shoved a piece of hardware required by the university. Give options, don't mandate one (or two nearly identical) devices.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:07PM (#25360459) Homepage Journal

    Oh I do agree with you. I am a christian and even go to church.
    ACU is just a very strict school and there belief system says that dancing is bad.
    I felt bad for my friend because she choose to go to that school yet felt the need to had the fact that she liked to go out dancing.
    But that is just me but I am with you that I don't think that there is anything immoral with dancing. I just try to respect others faith even if I don't share it.

  • by GigG ( 887839 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:10PM (#25360493)
    There is no evidence that an increase federal tax dollars improves education. All you have to do is look at a list of the schools that have the highest per student federal spending and you will, in most cases, be looking at a list of the worst schools in the counrty.
  • Who pays? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curmudgeonlyoldbloke ( 850482 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:14PM (#25360557)

    ACU pays for the hardware

    No they don't. Whoever pays the students' fees pays for it, plus any admin charge the university adds for overseeing the moving around of the money.

  • Re:Rates (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kemanorel ( 127835 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:40PM (#25360995)

    Fair enough, I should have said, "limited to being used with one OS." Out of fairness, can you name me any other small internet enabled device that is not a "netbook" that can run multiple OS's? Everything I can think of that falls in this class of device (PDA-ish or MP3 player with additional features) is locked to a propriety OS, be it OSX, WinCE, Palm, or something else. Very rarely can you change it out, even if it is an Android phone. It's still limited to what it came with. Perhaps the people in charge of this decision went for a combination of an OS they could get software for fairly easy, a decent UI, and a piece of tech that has something of a "cool" factor to entice students to spend their college money at their private institution.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:44PM (#25361065) Homepage Journal

    You fail at Business 101.

    Don't think in terms of "what", think "what for" - I don't really care what my tax dollars are spent on, as long as it helps the purpose, in this case of education. If iPhones do and the cost/benefit analysis works out (which might require a trial to test, that's fine) then that's ok with me. If HD projectors do, fine thing. Heck, if a daily blowjob for every student does, I'd be ok with that.

    On the surface "more books" might sound like it's "more educational". But that's the surface. I know lots of books in university libraries are never read even once during their shelf life. So what, exactly, did they contribute to education?

  • So Much For... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:46PM (#25361107)
    So much for telling the students to turn their cell phones off in class.
  • Affordability? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:51PM (#25361169) Homepage Journal

    Of course its affordable, as it gets more expensive the government chips in more and raises the limit of the loans it will back.

    That has been the problem with college level education and health care. As soon as the government stepped in and started paying for things at set rates without asking questions the competitive market failed. The price of admission became "cost + what the government was willing to chip in".

    We have some of the best tax payer funded education in the world but too many don't realize who is really paying for it. I know in my wonderful state that reviews have shown a growing portion of the budgets are professor pay and retirement costs, funny the endowments are just rolling over the cash and not helping more students.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 13, 2008 @04:58PM (#25361273)

    If I remember correctly with mine (2.5G model,) the first thing it did when I plugged it in was launch iTunes and had me sign up for service.

    If you simply turn it on, it puts up graphics to connect it to the computer.

  • Re:Rates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teilo ( 91279 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @05:03PM (#25361355) Homepage

    Abilene has had this program for a long time now. They piloted it on the original iPhone, and were Apples poster-child for demonstrating the iPhone as a platform.

    And no, in their case, it makes no bloody sense at all to allow multiple-OSs. They have developed the iPhone to the hilt, integrating everything from school maps, class schedules, class notes, recordings of classes, messaging, notices, etc., all into one integrated platform. There is no way they could have accomplished the same thing on mobile devices if they had to support mixed platforms, without making it both harder to use, run slower on mobile devices, and a support nightmare. The iPhone provided them an ideal opportunity, and they took it. More power to them.

    Could they have gone open? Sure. If Android had been available already, perhaps they would have gone that direction. But you can be sure that even if they went open, they would have settled on ONE platform for the same reasons as noted above.

  • Wait... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @05:09PM (#25361435)

    So every student on campus will have an easy to steal and easy to sell item in their possession at all times? Where can I submit an application? Seems to be a lucrative business opportunity. /paranoia

  • Tuition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nEoN nOoDlE ( 27594 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @05:49PM (#25361855) Homepage

    Everyone's saying this is a waste of money, but with tuition as much as it is, this is a drop in the bucket compared to what the students will be paying for their degrees. Do you think anybody will notice if their tuition went up 300 bucks over 4 years to cover the cost of these devices, that may have many benefits for their classes, such as easy class lookup and registration, online syllabus and course notes that are available with you all the time, and so on and so forth. When the teachers could rely on everybody having access to this stuff instead of just a few students, teachers can actually use the devices to improve their classes.

  • by Teilo ( 91279 ) on Monday October 13, 2008 @06:26PM (#25362271) Homepage

    Consider this - Until the iPhone there was no practical device of the kind for browsing the web, with the full power of the web. As noted many times in this article, all previous generations of mobile browsers sux0r.

    Kind of pointless to talk about supporting other platforms when there are, as yet, no other platforms to support (speaking of the mobile web, that is). They say, in the article, that they can always evaluate Android later.

  • Re:Awful idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lucifuge31337 ( 529072 ) <daryl@@@introspect...net> on Tuesday October 14, 2008 @09:50AM (#25368069) Homepage

    I think they were trying to offer a volume discount to the students, but they don't have a way to opt-out and save money!

    The school wants them to all have the same device with the same capabilities. That's why they can't opt out.

    And the best idea would be to ditch it the program altogether because I don't see these devices significantly improving the student's education.

    Obviously you missed the point of this exercise. The school thinks the exact opposite, and believes that everyone having the same device will allow them to better utilize it (the school and the students). Duke has had a rather successful program using iPods for several years now.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.