Today's Question: Should universities require certain brands of technology?

Friday, May 8, 2009 | 5:36 p.m. CDT

MU's School of Journalism made national headlines this week for its newest educational "requirement": Apple's iPod Touch.

Incoming freshman are loosely required to purchase either the Touch or a similar hand-held device, such as an iPhone, to be able to access recorded lectures of their classes. By requiring the equipment, students can purchase these products with financial aid.

The requirement will not be enforced and there will be no penalty for students who choose not to buy an iPod Touch, said Brian Brooks, School of Journalism associate dean, in a previous Missourian report.

The journalism school requires students to purchase a laptop with Microsoft Office and states on its Web site that Apples are the preferred platform.

"By the time you purchase photo, audio and video software for a PC, you probably will have spent more than you would if buying a comparable Apple Computer. Buy a PC if you prefer to do so, but make sure it is wireless and has Microsoft Office. Almost 100 percent of last year's freshmen chose Apple computers," the Web site states.


Should the MU School of Journalism endorse certain brands of technology?

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Frank Bier May 8, 2009 | 11:09 p.m.

wise choice, I'M NOT A PC

(Report Comment)
Greg Collins May 9, 2009 | 8:00 a.m.

To the extent it is necessary to own a particular brand, fine ... but many requirements can be kept vendor neutral. The school was smart not to enforce it rather allow the students to decide for themselves whether the cost was worth it.

For better or for worse, manufacturers are tripping over themselves to add touch-screen navigation to their portable MP3 and video players in an effort to compete with Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch.

(Report Comment)
Amber Hanneken May 9, 2009 | 8:15 a.m.

"Almost 100 percent of last year's freshmen chose Apple computers."

HA! This is because the J-school has been running this little scam for years. 4 years ago, when I was a freshmen, they told us an Apple laptop was a requirement. Everyone in my class I've talked to was also under the assumption that this was a requirement in order to take classes. Whoops! Turns out that just about any brand of computer would do for the workload we have. TigerTech wouldn't tell you that, neither would our professors.

Why doesn't the J-school ever mention the discounts they're getting for their deal with the devil (Apple) here?

I have no idea how he figures purchasing photo, audio and video is any different on a PC. You still have to pay for Photoshop on your Mac, most PCs come with MovieMaker and audio software can be downloaded for free from Audacity. Back in the day, Macs used to be a better tool for photo and video software but now PCs and Macs have more or less the same capacity in running these programs.

As for the iPod/iPhone fiasco. I really, really hope for the incoming freshmen (and their parents!) sake that they are making it clear that this requirement really isn't a requirement at all. Because the very definition of the word requirement is:
that which is required; a thing demanded or obligatory


a need or necessity.

How are people supposed, to know it's just a little loop hole as the J-school is saying, if all they are told is "required"?

(Report Comment)
MikeMO May 9, 2009 | 1:52 p.m.

From the site: "Q. What if I prefer a Windows-based machine?
A. That's an option, but it's one we do not recommend unless you plan to make a career of computer-assisted reporting."

Ummm....what? So basically, don't use a PC because that's what professionals use?

(Report Comment)
Matt Y May 9, 2009 | 3:00 p.m.

Cue the conspiracy theories.

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich May 9, 2009 | 3:43 p.m.

If these are to be used for simply downloading podcasts, why doesn't the school simply recommend a podcast-capable device (like..gee...I don't know...a laptop?!)

If, on the other-hand, the J-School faculuty could be planning on teaching actual programming for the iPhone platform (which I HIGHLY doubt will happen anytime soon. I've worked with the J-School faculty and they are probably some of the most technologically -incompetent people I've ever encountered... how sad is it that the Maneater's website is much better designed than the Missourian's? Or how about some RSS feeds, finally, Missourian? It would probably take upwards of 45 minutes to implement...)

Anyway, if the J-School REALLY wants to teach iPhone developing, then it is doing it wrong. No one knows that the iPhone will be the most popular smartphone choice in 10 years, and they aren't even the most popular now (Blackberry's are). If you teach programming on an open source platform (like Android), then you are lowering the costs of teaching for both the school and students, as well as teaching an open-ended platform which skills could be transferred to other programming SDKs. Either way, I honestly am not a fan of this move, since these subsidized loans come from tax revenue, and I don't want my tax money paying for kids playing those iPhone games and browsing Facebook in class, and a $1800 (total paid over two years) subscription plan that you are FORCED to get when purchasing an iPhone.

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich May 9, 2009 | 3:45 p.m.

PS - To clarify, the Missourian DOES have RSS feeds, but the site's design is so backwards that you can't find a link to them on the front page. Clearly, on the cutting edge of digital journalism, there.

Here is a link:

What news site DOESN't have a link to RSS feeds on the front page? Come on...

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 9, 2009 | 7:11 p.m.

>>> What news site DOESN't have a link to RSS feeds on the front page? Come on <<<

Alot of the smaller news sites don't.

(Report Comment)
Audrey Spalding May 10, 2009 | 5:33 p.m.

Re: Using a computer for Computer Assisted Reporting.

Actually, the programs we used in CAR were Excel and Access, which don't need to run on a Mac.

And, for students who want to do real statistical analysis, the Mac computer is the worst possible choice. SPSS and STATA are not Mac compatible.

(Report Comment)
Rob Weir May 11, 2009 | 11:39 a.m.

Art: We do actually have a link to feeds on our home page (and all our pages). It's under "Feeds," rather than RSS. That may be be confusing; if so, I apologize. They had originally been listed under "Syndication" which was even more confusing.

Audrey: Your comment is inaccurate. SPSS and STATA both have versions that run on OSX:

You can also use the deployments NICAR has on Macs that have Intel chip architecture. All you'd need to do is to install Paralells, BootCamp or similar programs to boot in a Windows environment. Or you could use Sun VirtualBox to run a VM from within OSX; that's what I use for Windows server and Active Directory support on my Mac. The link is here:

Rob Weir
Director of Digital Development
The Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)

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