Texas university to give out iPhones, iPod touches

Abilene Christian University has announced plans to supply all incoming freshman with an iPhone or iPod touch as part of an initiative to enhance learning through the use of technology. According to ACU Chief Information Officer Kevin Roberts, freshmen will use the devices to receive homework alerts, answer in-class surveys and quizzes, get directions to their professors’ offices, and check their meal and account balances – among more than 15 other useful web applications already developed. The plan has gained attention from Apple and Ivy League universities — Roberts recently gave a presentation at Apple headquarters to company executives and selected leaders from universities including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Duke, Stanford, Oxford, Princeton, and UCLA outlining ACU’s “creative vision for converged media devices.”

“We are not merely providing cutting-edge technology tools to our incoming students,” said Roberts. “We are also providing the web applications that ensure these tools will become critical to the students’ learning experience. Because 93 percent of ACU students bring their own computers with them to college, we are choosing to take them to the next level by providing converged mobile devices.” Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, ACU provost, said, “This is exciting to me, not only because we’re giving students new tools, but because we are transforming the learning environment. The extensive research that’s been done on campus in the past 10 months has prepared us to launch with freshmen this fall, and research will be ongoing as we expand the program in the future.”

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