Sunday, March 02, 2008

Abilene Christian gets on board with mobile learning!

The exclamation point in the heading is my interpretation of the tone in this SmartMobs post. It reports on an article from the Wired Campus, describing a new mobile learning program:
“Abilene Christian University says it will be the first university in the country to give iPhones or iPods to all incoming freshmen.”
Okay, that could be pretty exciting (especially for Apple, I imagine). I do think it is pretty forward-looking. But let's not lose sight of the fact that universities have been talking forever about requiring entering freshmen to buy computers. Some of them have actually made laptops required purchases or "given them away" (i.e., financed them through the students' fees). But most haven't, because it's very expensive to buy, service, and administer all those computers.

Handhelds are a great way to get around this issue: not only are they much cheaper, they are less complex and much of their functionality is via servers rather than on the client. I haven't reviewed the ACU materials, but I'm guessing there's a way to centrally administer upgrades and a plan to handle bricked iPhones. Of course, you can't use an iPhone for complex or input-heavy applications (say, typing a ten-page paper), but it should be able to handle most communication and surfing apps, reducing the load on desktop infrastructure at ACU.

Smart Mobs » Blog Archive » The solidifying rationale for mobile learning

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