If you followed the Twitterverse yesterday, you probably heard a lot of tweets about the new requirement for Mizzou journalism students to buy an iPhone or an iPod Touch. The original story from the Maneater
(sorry, their site is down) accurately said that entering freshmen would be required to have one or the other, and also said that there was a strong likelihood that the iPod Touch would be free with their laptop bundle. However, it was the “students will be required to buy an iPhone” piece that the Twitterverse focused on, with predictable results.
I spent a lot of time yesterday tweeting responses to people, but I finally got disgusted and gave up. For the record, though, here’s some background from Jen Reeves, the chair of our tech committee. She sent this out in a Jour-All e-mail earlier and gave me permission to repost it here:
As the chair of the technology committee, I wanted to give you more insight in the new iTouch/iPhone requirement that is on the TigerTech website. It reads:
“New this year, School of Journalism will require students to have an iPod Touch or iPhone for use in the classroom and academics, along with the Apple MacBook computer and required software.”
I want to apologize for not bringing this up to the full faculty because I did not understand the need for this verbage in the TigerTech site.
Let me explain the reasoning. Brian Brooks has worked with Apple and learned there is a 99.9% change students will get a free iTouch with their MacBook purchase. But adding the word “required” will make sure the iTouch expense can be included in financial aid expenditures.
I apologize for not understanding the need for the wording and not talking to the full faculty about it. Your technology committee agreed it was a great idea to use the iTouch/iPhone product as a teaching and learning tool. Coming in the next month, there will be a freshman-focused iTunesU site with content the freshmen will be able to use to learn more about Mizzou and the J-School. That will be a great launching point for future uses of the iTunesU product. It also gives us more reason to start recording audio/video of our classes for the iTunesU site.
The added emphasis was mine — to repeat, “adding the word “required” will make sure the iTouch expense can be included in financial aid expenditures.” So not only is the iPod Touch free to students, the expense (if there is any) can be paid for through scholarships or other financial aid that the student has.
Now, aside from the “recorded lectures” thing, there are other ways students could use an iPhone or iPod Touch — for mobile newsgathering, for application development, to read news, etc. And teaching students to use an iPhone for newsgathering doesn’t lock them into that API any more than teaching InDesign means you have to use that for design. But both of those are another post for another time.
So, please, if you’re reading this and were previously outraged, chill out a little. I promise, it’s not our intention to lock anyone to a particular API or piece of software.