Looking for transparency

The Missouri University School of Journalism is now making Apple’s iPod Touch or the iPhone a requirement for incoming freshmen according to an article from the Missourian. The idea being that if students can hear lectures more than once they retain three times as much information. While the school says these devices are required, they really aren’t enforcing the new policy. The school made it a requirement so students with financial aid could pay for these gadgets with financial aid money. Students can still download the lectures from iTunes and review them on their laptop computers.

First off, do you think this concept is overboard? Is an iPhone or iPod Touch really necessary to be successful in school? Seems like students have done just fine in the past without spiffy gadgets in hand. Students aren’t going to be playing back the lectures during class, so why are portable devices needed? Why isn’t the school just promoting playbacks on laptops?

Second of all, why is MU pushing Apple? Brian Brooks, associate dean of the Journalism School, said “the iPod was chosen as the required media player because students are familiar with it.” That may be true but is it fair to endorse one specific company? All the financial aid students who go out to make their purchases will be giving their business to Apple.

Apple is not the only one who manufactures products with these playback and downloadable features. I’m pretty sure downloading from iTunes is easy no matter what device you are using. Don’t get me wrong, I have both a Mac laptop and an iPod. I have nothing against Apple, but as a PR student, I’ve been taught that transparency and honesty are imperative. Does it seem like there is more than meets the eye here? In today’s world do businesses endorse other businesses for free? Usually, there is some incentive or “kick-back” for lack of a better term. If Apple does have an agreement with MU should it be disclosed? If such a relationship exists I think it should be disclosed. What does Apple or MU have to lose? It seems like a good partnership to me.

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10 Responses to Looking for transparency

  1. astrazzara says:

    I also like you, Kim, weigh both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages I think are every student will be on a “mobile” platform , the students will be cutting-edge in ways of newsgathering, teachers can create new creative teaching methods—podcasting, videocasting among others—and school can house specific media platforms for all students. However, the disadvantages are not every student will be able to afford an iPhone, students will become only Apple friendly and all these new technology will take time to establish, therefore, current students may not benefit (but future students could).

  2. bjohnson says:

    This is an interesting topic. I would argue that the school is being proactive in their technological approach to teaching. As we are learning in school, out go the newspaper and hard copy texts. Kindle is the new device for reading books and is being sold in many places. Perhaps MU is trying to adopt those trends and thus instill in their students the need for adoption of new technologies.

    I’ve always been a strong supporter of Apple products so as an incoming freshman I would most likely have loved that idea. Looking at it from a fiscal perspective, the purchase seems costly and as someone who didn’t receive financial aid every semester, I can relate to the notion that it would be expensive to make the purchase. For example, someone might already have the iPod (I would say odds are they do), but not the iPhone.

    In the end, however, I see where the school is headed. I like their approach. I would simply argue in favor of ALL electronic books and lectures so that they weren’t making me purchase digital and hard copy text. If that was the case, I’d argue that it is a great idea.

  3. sferrer says:

    I do like the idea of students having gadgets like the Iphone or Itouch as a tool for education. Being an Iphone owner, I find the device very useful. But, enforcing EVERY student to own one of these devices seems a bit ridiculous. If the Iphone/Itouch replaced textbooks and allowed electronic book downloads, I would approve. If Apple offered students/universities who uses these particular products for education purposes, I would also approve.

    Along with the positives, comes the negatives. If lectures were acessible on Itunes, students may not feel obligated to attend class because they can retrieve the information they missed at their fingertips. Technological problems can occur with the Iphone or Itouch. If these gadgets crash, information can be erased permanently. Students who do not have financial aid or the funds to purchase the gadgets will be excluded.

    It’s apparent that MU’s School of Journalism is pushing Apple products but I also think our own j-school at ASU advocates Apple because it’s “user friendly.” Although, our school does not enforce students to own these Apple products, a requirement can potentially happen for the classes to come. We were featured on the Apple Web site because of the MAC technology we use. If you haven’t seen the video, here is the link:


  4. kinoshita says:

    Ashley- I agree that it is cutting-edge in the way MU is being proactive in integrating the latest technology and trends into its traditional classrooms. I like the term you used “mobile platform.” You mentioned a disadvantage would be students would primarily become Apple friendly. Do you think it’s fair to endorse a specific brand?

    Britnee- Good point about the Kindle. It didn’t even cross my mind. The Kindle, however, is exclusive with Amazon from my understanding. You can only make purchases through Amazon which seems very restrictive to me, especially in a time when there are dozens of options at the push of a few keys. I wholeheartedly agree with you that if students have to go out and buy an iPod Touch or iPhone they shouldn’t have to purchase hard copies of textbooks as well.

    Stephanie- I hadn’t even thought about students taking advantage of the lectures being online and skipping class. That is a very legitimate concern. In this day and age we are use to conducting business and life via the Web. Thanks to the Internet and all its many resources and conveniences there has been less need and emphasis on face to face interaction in all areas of our lives: education, personal or professional. We already have virtual classrooms. This could be just another step in that direction. Awesome link! Very insightful and exciting to see ASU on the Apple Web site.

  5. ncano says:

    I think building relationships is important it is exactly what the University of Missouri is doing, however, they should publish that and have a web page devoted to their partnerships.

    I do think it’s a little much to expect these students to have an iPod touch or an iPhone. I started off with a PC in college, but wanted to get an Apple myself because I enjoyed the idea of not dealing with viruses. If ASU was forcing me or “recommending” me to get an iPod or iPhone when I started then I would be okay because I have an iPod, but if I didn’t I would find that ridiculous.

    However, ASU definitely is partners with Apple and Verizon and I personally see ASU promoting their partnerships around the Tempe campus and on their web sites. We are forced to use Apples at the Cronkite school because those are the computers in the labs and they have software that we need, however they say they have the capability to run with the Windows system (I’ve never seen this!). To some degree we are forced to use Apples, but we are never told that we NEED to have a personal Apple computer, they are just like Stephanie said “user friendly.”

    I do like that Apple gives students’ discounts online and in stores and they are do like offering their products to schools.

    In the article that I am linking, I like the last part of the article, a quote by Dale Musser, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Missouri. He says that Apple has an interest in college students because they are the type of people that get hired in school and out of school. It’s true. Apple is all about internships in all types of parts of the company. They appeal to students and market to the younger demographic. It makes sense to have them partner with different universities.


  6. ndapplegate says:

    After reading your post I am curious to research this more and find out if Apple has some sort of deal going on with MU j school. I agree that it is unfair to require one specific gadget when many others work just fine and can get the job done just as easily. I wonder if there is special application that Apple is trying to come up with for the journalism students to help them get lectures easier. I agree that most students today are more comfortable with Apple products, but in my case I am a pc user and I have a blackberry that works just as well as the iphone. I am more comfortable with Microsoft as opposed to mac.

  7. ekozak says:

    My best friend from high school attended the Missouri University School of Journalism. Before leaving for school, she had to purchase a specific Apple computer with a specific bundle of programs. She loved it. All of the students had the same technology and there were no issues with out of date or incompatible programs.

    I see the benefit of students all having access to the same technology. It makes it much easier to share information. And quite frankly, Apple computers have a significant advantage over PCs, especially in relation to some of the programs frequently used by journalism students. Also, the students often benefit from these partnerships through discounts and the availability of informed IT personnel.

    With regard specifically to the iPhone, I think this J-School is trying to be progressive and I don’t think the program is overboard, especially since there will not be any repercussions for those who do not use the iPhone. I think the more important aspect is that students will have access to lectures and can use that access to learn and comprehend the material at a deeper level. And EVERYONE has a cell phone, so why not use one that has the ability to help with schoolwork??

    I doubt that there are any kick-backs in this situation. The school has a history of requiring Apple products, but that doesn’t mean their partnership is anything but a benefit to the students. And in this situation, I don’t think either organization has anything to lose.

  8. bihrig says:

    After I read your post I got on Google and started researching the partnerships Universities have with companies. It is very interesting. It seems when Universities have a partnership they do disclose it. I certainly think Missouri University needs to disclose any information regarding a partnership with Apple, if there is one. I think it is a little crazy to require students to have an Apple iPod touch or iPhone.
    Students don’t have to have those devices to use iTunes. For a school to require a device like this would make me think they do have some sort of partnership with Apple. Also, they could be making it a requirement so students can use financial aid money for the devices. If it weren’t required and just suggested then students would have to pay for it out of their own pocket. So as long as it is not enforced then the requirement shouldn’t be of much concern.
    I do find it odd they are pushing Apple product and not just a device that can access the Internet. There are dozens of devices that can be used to access iTunes. These devices certainly won’t make you more successful in school but might offer a faster way to access school information. Then again I can access school information and iTune from the phone I have now.

  9. edean says:

    This is a really interesting article. I feel it brings up very several advantages as well as disadvantages. First of all, I see the advantage of keeping students up to date on the latest technology. Considering college is supposed to prepare you for the “real world”, utilizing these tools in learning environments makes sense.

    However, I feel requiring expensive devices in schools is a bit too much. Although students can receive financial aid to pay for an iTouch or iPod, but there are a vast amount of students not eligible for aid who still can’t afford a $400 plus electronic device.

    I agree with you Kim. I think it’s one thing to endorse a product, if so; MU should take a transparent route and openly express it as one.

  10. kinoshita says:

    Nathalie- You make a great point about ASU’s transparent relationship with Apple and Verizon Wireless. We do see promotions and evidence of these partnerships around campus. We are even on Apple’s Web site- Go Devils! Since we don’t have access to MU’s campus we have no way of knowing whether or not MU highlights their partnership with Apple or AT&T. Maybe they do, but it’s not as easy to identify on the Web as I think it should be. I like the quote from Dale Musser. Apple does focus greatly on our generation; therefore, it does make sense they would want to establish relationships with campuses across the country.

    Nicole- From the few articles I’ve read, it’s not necessarily an application but downloads from a specific section on iTunes called iTunes U. Apple defines iTunes U at http://www.apple.com/education/mobile-learning/ . According to Brian Brooks from the Missourian article, “students have the choice of just using their laptops to review lectures.” You don’t need an Apple product to access the material. It’s just more convenient if you have an iPhone or iPod touch.

    Erin- Small world that you have a friend that went to MU and got to experience this. I’m glad that it worked out great for her. When everyone uses the same system and programs it does make it easier. However, what if you are a die hard PC user? I love how we use Macs at Cronkite but can still use PCs at home. Not every company uses Macs either. What if the job you land after school only uses PCs and software compatible with PCs? Do you think it will hurt you to only know one system?

    Britney- I agree that universities need to disclose partnerships, especially ones that impact their students. I don’t think it’s odd that MU is pushing Apple products, but I do find it odd their relationship with Apple isn’t as transparent given their obvious relationship.

    Emily- I completely agree there are definite advantages to using and understanding these tools. Not to mention it’s just fun and cool. You’re also right when you say there are a vast number of students who aren’t eligible for aid. It’s not like the device is taking the place of textbooks. Students aren’t saving money; they are spending more money. The nice thing is MU isn’t enforcing the policy- yet.

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