The students at ACU were the lucky recipients of either an iPhone 3G or iPod Touch plus a collection of Web Apps written by ACU. This is just one example of an upswing in Apple sales to educational organizations which in recent years has been in decline. Apple’s sales have eclipsed Dell, which used to rank first in education sales.
The use of Apple hardware at ACU is part of the university’s Mobile Learning and the Connected Campus program. It was open to over 1,000 students and faculty. The equipment was supplied by the university, but in the case of the iPhone 3G, the student and/or their parents had to select and pay for their own cellular calling plan. ACU received an award from Campus Technology as an innovator in Mobile Learning for their program.
iPhone/iPod distribution was designed to allow students to leave their laptops at home when they go to class. Faculty was trained to develop curricula that incorporates the use of these devices by adding podcasts, flashcards, polls, and live assessments for use in classes across the ACU campus. Students were also encouraged to use Google apps over the internet for their class work. The web apps created for ACU students are polished. One, called mymobile, tracks classes in which a student is enrolled, stats about the class (professors name, etc.) and map of the college campus so you can find out how to get to the class. The college is also making extensive use of the iTunes U section of the iTunes Store. According to the Campus Technology website:
“Internal marketing on the program is already in place. To help students (and other faculty members) prepare for the deployment, faculty and education technologists have communicated their vision through a special blog, a unique mobile learning web portal, and a student-produced film that, as of May 15, had been downloaded more than 25,000 times.
“Bill Rankin, director of mobile learning and a professor of English, says that while this film has helped introduce newcomers and potential business partners to the program, the process of developing it yielded some unforeseen benefits as well: The video has encouraged faculty and students to re-imagine the learning process in bold new ways, and to buy into that vision earlier than they may have otherwise. ‘One strength of moving mobility at ACU has been putting educators and developers in the same room,’ says Rankin.”