COLUMBIA — Books, paper and pens are considered necessary school supplies. Now, so is an iPod touch or an iPhone for incoming freshmen at the MU School of Journalism.
Brian Brooks, associate dean of the Journalism School, said the idea is to turn the music player into a learning device.
“Lectures are the worst possible learning format,” Brooks said. “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.”
Freshmen admitted into the School of Journalism and pre-journalism students will be sent a letter notifying them of the change. Students may buy either an iPod touch or iPhone in order to meet the new requirement. The iPod touch retails around $229 and the iPhone starts at $199, according to Apple’s Web site.
The requirement will not be enforced, however, and there will not be a penalty for students who chose not to buy an iPod touch or iPhone, Brooks said.
“The reason we put required on it is to help the students on financial need,” Brooks said. “If it’s required, it can be included in your financial need estimate. If we had not required it, they wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Brooks said students have the choice of just using their laptops to review lectures.
Brooks also mentioned the iPod rebate Apple has offered in past years as a way of helping students purchase an iPod touch. The rebate is part of laptop bundles the school offers through TigerTech.
TigerTech salesman Johnny Warnke said the technology store has already received several calls from future journalism students asking about the discount, but that Apple has not announced what the rebate, if any, will be this year. Last year, the company offered a rebate for an 8-gigabyte iPod touch.
“We’re anticipating that they will, but until they make their announcement official, we’re just hoping,” Warnke said.
Elizabeth Eberlin, an MU journalism student, started the Facebook group "Rotten Apple" in response to the new requirement.
“I really like my Apple computer, but I don’t think people should be forced to buy one brand of computer or one brand of anything,” she said. The Facebook group’s description calls into question the School of Journalism’s relationship with Apple, citing a possible conflict of interest.
Brooks said the iPod was chosen as the required media player because students are familiar with it.
“There’s a lot of theory out there that says what you want to do is engage students in realms where they are already comfortable, and we know a lot of students are already familiar with iPods and iTunes so we want to get into that space and take advantage of that,” he said.
This summer, Brooks said, the entire MU campus is installing a program called Tegrity which will allow the recording of lectures. Lectures can later be downloaded to media players through iTunes U which offers free content hosted by universities.
Brooks said MU is following other schools such as Stanford and Abilene Christian University in the use of this technology. The success of the new program will be evaluated at the end of the year, at which time Brooks said the program will be changed or scrapped.
“I anticipate it doing very well because it has proven to be very valuable to other universities,” he said.