After administrators revealed the bold, new iPhone initiative last week, it seems to be all ACU students, faculty and staff can talk about.
The iPhone program takes a great progressive step toward changes in education and allows the 21st Century Vision to be put into play in a unique way.
Since the announcement, the ACU Web site has gotten hits from all over the world; and the school has received a lot of beneficial publicity.
The program, touted as the first of its kind anywhere, received praise on various technology blogs, and was featured on Yahoo! News. The plan gives professors and students complete access to one another in ways that have never been possible before.
The new ways of learning and receiving a different education will also be beneficial.
“Now the class can happen in a completely new way,” said Dr. Bill Rankin, associate professor of English and director of the iPhone educational research team. “The classroom loses its walls; I can go anywhere.”
The iPhone boasts many unique features, and professors can use different applications to supplement learning in and out of the classroom. Working early to determine how best to incorporate this kind of technology into a college atmosphere is not wasteful or chasing after a fad – it takes a smart, quick approach to developing a technology that will arrive on campus sooner than we may know. Every university must deal with this type of technology in the future, and ACU’s decision to use the iPhones makes the university look good among its competitors – therefore hopefully bringing in higher enrollment and alleviating the worries many have about the program.
The unveiling of the program accompanied stories of budget cuts and tuition increases, leading many to believe the iPhone initiative is a direct result of the tuition increase. That’s not the case, as Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, stated in his e-mail to the student body on Friday.
“The two are unrelated,” Money said in the e-mail. “The decision to increase tuition was made prior to the decision to distribute iPhones and iPod touches, and the tuition increase is not being used to pay for these devices.”
The decision has been met with conflicting viewpoints. Several students, faculty and staff joined Facebook groups in protest, while others wrote notes praising the university for the technological advances.
While this does benefit the university, we hope the iPhones don’t cripple education. The iPhone should supplement the curriculum, not drive it. Professors shouldn’t think it’s necessary to change everything to involve the iPhones in the classroom. Some classes may not benefit from the technology, and the sole focus of the classroom cannot be on the iPhone.
Another misgiving of the initiative is connection. Technology serves to connect the world in ways that were never possible before, but it also diminishes the importance of a personal connection. We hope the iPhones don’t destroy the community that ACU has worked so hard to build over the years. Our personal community at the university is part of what draws so many to ACU.
How beneficial is a classroom full of students looking down at their iPhones and not getting that face-toface connection we all need? ACU’s new goal is to connect the community – but a personal connection can have many more benefits than a technological connection ever will.
Even Money admits in his e-mail that “creating this culture will be difficult and take time to build.” We hope that while the environment, which will ultimately benefit students and the university, is being created, students and professors can achieve a healthy balance that keeps the university’s goals central to the campus.