Commentary
11/27/2007
05:13 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
Commentary

University To Make Students Carry GPS Mobile Phones

For those of you who thought I was jumping the gun with location and GPS, check this out: Montclair State University will require its students to buy and carry a special cell phone equipped with GPS. Is this a sign of things to come?



For those of you who thought I was jumping the gun with location and GPS, check this out: Montclair State University will require its students to buy and carry a special cell phone equipped with GPS. Is this a sign of things to come?Here is a look at the Montclair State GPS phone program:

"'School Phone' I use for campus e-mail, different things like that," freshman Angela Vuocolo said.

That's right.

First-year student Vuocolo said 'School Phone' -- as in a Sprint-operated cell phone -- is now mandatory for all students. It's the first program of its kind in the country.

The cost: $420 a year for a base plan which is bundled into the tuition bill.

It includes just 50 peak voice minutes a month, but unlimited text messaging to any carrier, unlimited campus-based data usage, and student activated emergency GPS tracking.

It will be interesting to see if students will actually carry this phone at all times. College kids are notoriously finicky. Even if this School Phone is hip, it's likely to have the shelf life of eggs with the students at this university. I suspect this program might be more successful if the university gave students a preferred carrier and list of phones equipped with GPS.

But, I think this announcement does point out two interesting trends. First, Montclair State wants to bundle in campus e-mail and other applications with the device. In short, this phone will make mobile data access for students a mandatory part of student life. Colleges and universities started making laptops mandatory at the end of the 1990s. Now laptops are as much a part of daily campus life at many universities as midterms and keggers.

Second, it demonstrates the desire of large organizations -- in this case a university -- for more GPS- and location-enabled mobile devices and applications.

What do you think? Will other colleges and universities soon make GPS and location-enabled cell phones a part of their campus IT services?

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