By Michael Freeman, Managing Editor
Freshmen will not be the only people beginning the school year with a free iPhone. About 150 faculty members will be equipped with iPhones or iPod touches to use in their classes this semester.
“I’ve found my colleagues very supportive,” said Dr.Kyle Dickson, associate professor of English and co-director of the Mobile Learning Research. “Media is not solely about entertainment, but it’s also a key tool in education.”
Many faculty members began ordering their iPhones shortly after the 3G version went on sale in July. Most have received their iPhones; however, a few are still waiting for their iPhones to arrive at the local AT&T store. Faculty, including adjunct and part-time instructors, who will be teaching freshmanlevel courses had first priority to the iPhones.
“We tried to make sure that people who were teaching classes like University 100 had first access to these devices,” said William Rankin,associate professor of English and co-director of the Mobile Learning Research. “We wanted the faculty who are teaching those students to be able to use them in the classroom.”
In preparation for this year, ACU developed an iPhone interface specifically tailored to university events and features. Three tabs in the interface include an ACU mobile tab, a personal mobile tab and a pocket guide. For their classes, faculty will work heavily within the personal mobile tab, which contains class information, Google calendars and the Files folders. Faculty also will have access to their class rosters, e-mail and student attendance via the iPhone. Another application featured in the personal mobile tab is called NANO tools. NANO tools provides faculty with a quick way to poll their students.
“With one touch, it provides you with everything you need to connect to your teacher,” Rankin said. “People are very excited about this tool and its use.”
Both Rankin and Dickson acknowledged that while many professors will immediately incorporate the iPhone into their courses, some may not use it as an educational tool at all.
“This is an additional tool available for faculty members,” Dickson said. “We’re investigating possible applications for these tools rather than legislating. These tools are not being recommended to every teacher with every kind of teaching style.”
Still, Rankin and Dickson said they were optimistic for the future of multimedia tools, such as the iPhone and iPod touch, in the education process.
“Ultimately, what we really want this device and program to do is to help students and teachers both be more engaged in exploring the pleasure of learning,” Rankin said. “If you think about it, we’re inherently inquisitive creatures. We want to know how things work. But in a lot of cases, education destroys that pleasure of discovery, that pleasure of learning, and we’re trying to find ways to bring that pleasure back.”