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US university outfits first year class with iPhone, iPod Touch
Halie Davis, a first year student at Abilene Christian University, uses her ACU-issued iPhone to stay in touch with friends and family, access class and school information, and run classroom applications and learning tools.
AT&T, the iPhone's exclusive carrier in the US, upgraded its EDGE network to 3G to support the ACU mobile project. Shown: new 3G base station deployment overlooking the campus.
What do you think of ACU's pilot mobile learning project? What are some of the benefits and pitfalls you see with this deployment? Should more universities follow ACU's lead?
ACU redesigned it's campus Wi-Fi network , boosting the number of 802.11abg Alcatel-Lucent access points from 176 to 500 to ensure enough capacity for at least 1,000 new Wi-Fi equipped handhelds in constant use.
When almost 1,000 first year students showed up at Abilene Christian University, in the US state of Texas, on August 16, they got something more than the usual medical release forms, parking permits and Welcome Week t-shirts. They got a choice of a brand-spanking-new Apple iPhone 3G or iPod Touch, plus a package of ACU-written Web applications to use on them.
In August, the incoming Class of 2012, got a choice of iPhone 3G or the Wi-Fi only iPod Touch. Over three-quarters chose the phone. Here a first-year student gets a quick tutorial on her new iPhone.
"Our classes look very similar the classes of 100 or even 200 years ago. Why not meet the students where they are today, using the tools they already have to leverage the education process?" -- Kevin Roberts, ACU's CIO
Kyle Dickson, co-director for ACU's Engaged Learning Project, shows incoming students some of the online materials and applications their handhelds will make use of. The projection behind him shows an actual screenshot of what they'd see in viewing the syllabi for their different classes.
The university is looking at 3G/Wi-Fi handhelds as the foundation for fostering a sense of community and for mobile access to learning resources.
ACU faculty and staff are working to evaluate the impact of mobile devices, mobile content, and wireless access on education. This photo was taken in a lecture hall during the August orientation, but it could just as well be an ACU classroom today: a new generation of students working with each other and a new generation of learning resources.