Colleges, universities, and other educational institutions have been turning to mobile tech in recent years in an unprecedented way: they've been awarding incoming freshmen classes with shiny new gear.
The latest such example comes from Seton Hall University, located a dozen miles west of Manhattan in South Orange, N.J. Tuesday it announced that it will give the incoming class of 2016 new Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone smartphones and the associated AT&T cellular service.
Seton Hall said that its technology mandate dates back to 1997, and this new initiative is meant "to support the university's mission of providing state of the art technology tools to enhance the student experience and prepare students for success in a rapidly changing world." The university handed out Apple iPads to incoming freshmen back in fall 2010.
In addition to the Lumia 900, Seton Hall students will have access to the SHUmobile application. This app, which works across a number of different platforms, gives students access to campus directories, maps, news feeds, and so on. Exclusive to the freshmen class of 2016, however, will be a new app written just for them on the Lumia 900 called the "Freshmen Experience." This app for new students goes beyond campus basics and offers social media integration and channels for communicating directly with fellow students, roommates, advisors, and others. According to Nokia, the university will make use of Nokia's Data Gathering services to push polls and other data to students.
[ The Lumia 900 is helping Windows Phone's market share. See Windows Phone Marketplace Crosses 100,000 App Mark. ]
The university picked the Windows Phone devices due to its native integration with Microsoft's Office suite of software.
"By providing our new incoming students with the Nokia Lumia 900, Seton Hall University can expand our existing Windows services and infrastructure while providing a unique, high quality, dynamic, and engaging mobile experience," said David Middleton, executive director of the Center for Mobile Research and Innovation, and assistant VP of administration at Seton Hall University.
Seton Hall's mobile research head, Michael Taylor, believes that mobile technology such as Windows Phone smartphones will make it easier for students and faculty to follow the three C's: connect, collaborate, and create. "Mobile technology has become ubiquitous and pervasive, but we are just beginning to understand the breadth of its impact across campus," said Taylor. "Smartphone use in higher education has tended to rely on finding a specific app to fulfill a specific curricular purpose. With the close collaboration between Nokia and Microsoft on the Lumia 900, the phone itself takes center stage."
What's not clear are which tools are already being used by upperclassmen. Do the sophomore, junior, and senior classes have access to all these same tools that are being handed to the freshmen? It appears that they are responsible for providing their own devices and service, though they'll be able to use the same SHUmobile app for access to campus info.
What do you think? Good move by Seton Hall? Should it have gone with a different platform, such as Android, or a different device, such as the iPhone? If you were an incoming freshmen, would you be pleased, or would you feel gypped?
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