The Missouri School of Journalism is forcing all incoming freshman this fall to own either an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch MP3 player.
"Effective with the fall 2009 semester, incoming freshmen journalism and pre-journalism students are required to have a Web-enabled audio-video player," the school posted on its web site. "This requirement is best met by purchasing the Apple iPod Touch, which has all the features the Missouri School of Journalism intends to implement to achieve its academic objectives and those of its students. There are alternatives to the iPod Touch, but none that we consider equally capable."
Many U.S. universities urge students to purchase and own laptops for writing essays and other school-related projects, but this likely is the first time a university is forcing students to have an iPhone or iPod touch.
The devices will allow the journalism students to look at class assignments and view lectures, listen to podcasts, and similar audio or video tasks. Furthermore, research indicates students learn better and retain more information if they are able to hear a lecture more than once -- the challenge will now be to try and get students to listen to the lectures.
"Lectures are the worst possible learning format," university Associate Dean Brian Brooks told the university's school newspaper, the Columbia Missourian. "There's been some research done that shows if a student can hear that lecture a second time, they retain three times as much of that lecture."
Although the Microsoft Zune MP3 player, Research in Motion (RIM) BlackBerry smartphone, and other devices can replay audio and video, school officials said the iPhone and iPod Touch simply have a wider variety of features and functionality. The university also can include the cost of such a device in a student's financial-need estimate, whereas that's not possible with other devices.
Around 50 universities are now offering class lecture podcasts for students, with a growing number of schools looking into the technology.