updated 01:15 pm EST, Tue February 26, 2008
iPhones for freshmen
Abilene Christian University will be delivering an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch to all members of its incoming class in 2008. Freshmen will use the iPhones or iPod Touches to receive homework alerts, answer in-class surveys and quizzes, get directions to their professors' offices, and check their meal and account balances - "among more than 15 other useful web applications already developed," said ACU Chief Information Officer Kevin Roberts. Roberts was asked to present ACU's creative vision for converged media devices at Apple headquarters to executives and to selected leaders from universities including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Duke, Stanford, Oxford, Princeton and UCLA.
In Mid-2007, Abilene Christian University announced plans to explore "campus-wide benefits of converged, mobile devices like the Apple iPhone in higher education." In a pilot study of faculty and educational technology developers, the group researched "how these converged, mobile devices can help foster community on campus and facilitate administrative tasks." The iPhone distribution this year is a result of that study.
"The creation of Apple's iPhone – which offers many popular services in one device – has made what we see as the first really compelling solution," said Roberts. "We are very excited about the possibilities that the iPhone offers the learning process, both inside and outside the classroom," said Dr. Bill Rankin, associate professor of English at ACU. "We have a vision for creative ways to enhance the learning experience using a portable device, and we hope to learn more as our pilot group begins using the iPhone every day in the academic setting."