How the iPhone Could Reboot Education

Follow up to post a year ago on the big iPhone giveaway at Abilene Christian U.

How do you educate a generation of students eternally distracted by the internet, cellphones and video games? Easy. You enable them by handing out free iPhones — and then integrating the gadget into your curriculum. That’s the idea Abilene Christian University has to refresh classroom learning. Located in Texas, the private university just finished its first year of a pilot program, in which 1,000 freshman students had the choice between a free iPhone or an iPod Touch.

The initiative’s goal was to explore how the always-connected iPhone might revolutionize the classroom experience with a dash of digital interactivity. Think web apps to turn in homework, look up campus maps, watch lecture podcasts and check class schedules and grades. For classroom participation, there’s even polling software for Abilene students to digitally raise their hand. The verdict? It’s working quite well. 2,100 Abilene students, or 48 percent of the population, are now equipped with a free iPhone. Fully 97 percent of the faculty population has iPhones, too. The iPhone is aiding Abilene in giving students the information they need — when they want it, wherever they want it, said Bill Rankin, a professor of medieval studies who helped plan the initiative.


So, sounds like progress but will be interesting to see how sustainable this is and whether it leads to real changes in delivery and student learning.

5 thoughts on “How the iPhone Could Reboot Education

  1. The polling feature seems one of the most interesting features to me:

    “using polling software that Abilene coded for the iPhone, students can answer the questions anonymously by sending responses electronically with their iPhones. The software can also quickly quiz students to gauge whether they’re understanding the lesson.
    Most importantly, by allowing the students to participate in polls anonymously with the iPhone, it relieves them of any social pressure to appear intelligent in front of their peers. If they answer wrong, nobody will know who it was, ridding students of humiliation. And if students don’t understand a lesson, they can ask the teacher to repeat it by simply tapping a button on the iPhone.”

    and you probably dont need an iphone to do this!

  2. We’ve been using a Turning Point polling system for a few years. It integrates with PowerPoint. Each student has a small RF voting hand set.

    In some subjects, for some lectures, it works. In many subjects, writing meaningful questions can be more trouble than it’s worth.

  3. Monday 9am, I entered a meeting with Ian R determined that I wouldn’t get involved in iPhone app development.

    Monday 10am, I leave the meeting having agreed to develop an iPhone app.

    Where did it all go wrong? Can anyone please explain why building an iPhone app is a good idea?


  4. Pingback: iPhones and iPads on Campus « Registrarism

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