Sunday, August 24, 2008

Welcome, Freshmen. Have an iPod.

August 21, 2008 Welcome, Freshmen. Have an iPod

By JONATHAN D. GLATER

Taking a step that professors may view as a bit counterproductive, some universities are doling out Apple iPhones and Internet-capable iPods to students.

The always-on Internet devices raise some novel possibilities, like tracking where students congregate. With far less controversy, colleges could send messages about canceled classes, delayed buses, campus crises or just the cafeteria menu.

While schools emphasize its usefulness — online research in class and instant polling of students, for example — a big part of the attraction is, undoubtedly, that the iPhone is cool and a hit with students. Basking in the aura of a cutting-edge product could just help a university foster a cutting-edge reputation.

Apple stands to win as well, hooking more young consumers with decades of technology purchases ahead of them. The lone losers, some fear, could be professors.
Students already have laptops and cellphones, of course, but the newest devices can take class distractions to a new level. They practically beg a user to ignore the long-suffering professor struggling to pass on accumulated wisdom from the front of the room — a prospect that teachers find galling and students view as, well, inevitable.

[snip]

Experts see a movement toward the use of mobile technology in education, though they say it is in its infancy as professors try to concoct useful applications. Providing powerful hand-held devices is sure to fuel debates over the role of technology in higher education.

“We think this is the way the future is going to work,” said Kyle Dickson, co-director of research and the mobile learning initiative at Abilene Christian University in Texas, which has bought more than 600 iPhones and 300 iPods for students entering this fall.

[snip]

At least four institutions — the University of Maryland, Oklahoma Christian University, Abilene Christian and Freed-Hardeman — have announced that they will give the devices to some or all of their students this fall.

[snip]

The University of Maryland, College Park is proceeding cautiously, giving the iPhone or iPod Touch to 150 students, said Jeffrey C. Huskamp, vice president and chief information officer at the university. “We don’t think we have all the answers,” Mr. Huskamp said. By observing how students use the gadgets, he said, “We’re trying to get answers from students.”

At each college, the students who choose to get an iPhone must pay for mobile phone service. Those service contracts include unlimited data use. Both the iPhones and the iPod Touch devices can connect to the Internet through campus wireless networks. [snip] University officials say they have no plans to track their students ... . They say they are drawn to the prospect of learning applications outside the classroom, though such lesson plans have yet to surface.

[snip]

The rush to distribute the devices worries some professors, who say that students are less likely to participate in class if they are multitasking. “I’m not someone who’s anti-technology, but I’m always worried that technology becomes an end in and of itself, and it replaces teaching or it replaces analysis,” said Ellen G. Millender, associate professor of classics at Reed College in Portland, Ore. [snip]

The experience at Duke University may ease some concerns. A few years ago, Duke began giving iPods to students with the idea that they might use them to record lectures (these older models could not access the Internet).

“We had assumed that the biggest focus of these devices would be consuming the content,” said Tracy Futhey, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Duke.

But that is not all that the students did. They began using the iPods to create their own “content,” making audio recordings of themselves and presenting them. The students turned what could have been a passive interaction into an active one, Ms. Futhey said.

1 comment:

south university virginia beach said...

Mobile technology will greatly help students that's certain. The only problem is with the educators. Most educators are against it and favor traditional methods. But, those who do really like it. I believe that they really help. They contribute to a paperless education, make the lessons more interesting and speed up the search for information due to the internet.