This is a loaded moment for ACU, where technology takes precedence and affordability in education seems to play second-string.
It’s been five years since the university started the mobile-learning initiative and we are now seeing the on-campus repercussions of what technology is known for: changing quickly.
The mobile-learning initiative began with the iPhone. Five years ago iPhones, and smartphones in general, were uncommon. Now nearly every freshman arrives with a smartphone. ACU acknowledged this by discontinuing the doling out of mobile devices. Technology trends have since gravitated toward tablet devices, proving to be a better platform when it comes to education. Hence the ACU iPad requirement.
Maybe it is because the AT&T-sponsored stipend for the mobile initiative ended. Maybe it is because we are adopting the theory that an iPad is as essential as a textbook. Either way, ACU is transferring the financial burden of technology to the students.
Electronic books are cheaper and there are a plethora of substantively educational apps. There are benefits with the iPad that we didn’t previously have with the iPhone. However, this idea of improvement, and the rate at which it changes, is a characteristic of technology that no other generation before us has experienced. There were 58 years between the invention of the record player and the invention of the cassette tape, and more than 40 years between the cassette tape and the CD.
Seeing what short amount of time it took ACU to switch from one platform to another should be a good indicator for the length of time that it will take for us to move on to the next one.
Dr. Susan Lewis, vice provost of the university, said, “We have shifted our focus from the iPhone to the iPad, now that it is the device of choice.”
If it is the markets that are determining the “device of choice,” then let them decide. If it is the preferences of students that are guiding the university’s focus, then so be it. But ACU needs to take more consideration into the length of time a “device of choice” will actually be affordably relevant.