Remember when Duke University gave each member of its incoming class of freshmen in 2004 a brand new iPod pre-loaded with freshman-orientation information, an academic calendar and even the Duke fight songs? Well the University of Missouri School of Journalism doesn't seem to be so nice. They're requiring that every journalism major purchase an iPod Touch or an iPhone—on their own dime.
Even as a working adult, shelling out top dollar for nice gadgets isn't easy. If I were a student at the University of Missourri, especially one of the ones without significant financial aid awards, I'd imagine shelling out a couple hundred for a new iPod Touch could be near impossible.
Their foundation for this policy change comes from the idea that listening to lectures for a second time, students retain more information—true—and that the iPod Touch and iPhone are great learning tools for downloading the lectures and lesson plans that Mizzou will make available—also true.
It's a good idea at heart, but is it fair? The article on FoxNews.com with Associate Dean Brian S. Brooks is unsurprisingly shifty.
In the article, he admits that students could use their laptops (99.5 percent of Journalism students at Mizzou already own an Apple laptop) or another MP3-player (Like the Zune for die-hard Apple haters) to watch or listen to lectures. But, students with financial aid will be forced to include the price of a new iPod Touch on their needs statement. And confusingly, the article says that those without financial aid might have to conform to the requirement anyway, without explaining exactly why.
The best part of all of this? Dean Brooks seems to think this new plan is not going to cost his students anything ("'It's not going to cost them a cent,' he said" - FoxNews.com), mentioning the offer that Apple extends for a free iPod Touch when you buy a new Apple laptop.
We don't see higher education, we see a kick in the face to poor college students and PC-users everywhere. Providing digital media that integrates with students' courses is a great idea, but requiring them to have pricey, name-brand hardware to go with it is a little despicable to me. What do you think?