iPhones are out. iPads are in.
The university’s Mobile Learning initiative is moving into Phase II. Beginning in the fall, all incoming students will be required to have iPads for use in the courses. ACU will only distribute iPads to students; iPhones and iPod Touches will no longer be options.
Dr. Robert Rhodes, provost, said the need to give out smartphones has greatly decreased since the beginning of the project.
“We started out with the iPhone because it was the most available and highest quality instructional tool,” Rhodes said. “Now, it no longer is. The iPad is a higher level device.”
iPads will help students take advantage of the latest innovations in and great volumes of electronic textbooks.
“The apps and instructional support available are rich with the iPad,” he said. “The electronic textbook market has grown.”
Many students will be concerned with the high price tag of the iPads, but Rhodes said since they will be required, they would be covered by financial aid. Electronic textbooks will typically be less expensive than hard copies.
“We’re able to offset the cost for students while they’re here to have access to less expensive electronic texts,” he said.
ACU will offer the iPad mini, which is less expensive, in addition to the standard size. It will also not require students to purchase one if they already own one.
Next year’s juniors and seniors won’t be required to buy the Apple tablets. Some may need one for a select class or two, but they should be able to receive loaners if that’s the case.
“But obviously we only have a certain amount for that,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said most freshmen and sophomore general education courses will utilize the tablets in the classroom.
Last spring, Team 55 sent an email to all incoming freshmen, encouraging them to choose the iPad because they would be required to have them beginning in fall of 2013. The university had been considering this mandate but hadn’t made the decision at the time of that email. Seventy five percent of this year’s freshmen chose the iPad instead of the smaller devices.
Rhodes said the program is exclusive to iPads for simplicity’s sake, but could branch out to include other tablets as well in the future.
“We didn’t want to become too broad with the tech support for so many different tablets that it would become a challenge,” he said. “We’re starting with the iPad, the most widely adopted device, with an eye on expansion. We’re ensuring what we do allows for expansion to other devices.”