OC students welcome new laptop, iPhone program

Oklahoma Christian University (OC) has been a national leader in campus mobile computing since 2001 when it issued laptops to all students and became the first completely wireless campus in the state and one of the few in the nation. Since that time, the mobile teaching and learning initiative has seen great gains in student learning capabilities, providing increased communication and connecting students to learning resources.

In March, Oklahoma Christian announced plans to move from a PC-based one-to-one student laptop program to Apple MacBooks. The MacBook systems were provided to students with both major operating systems, Mac OS X and Windows Vista. Current students welcomed this change and 84 percent opted to pay an upgrade fee, returning their university-issued PC laptop for the new MacBook.

As students return to campus beginning August 23, they will also be issued an iPhone or iPod touch. Oklahoma Christian will be one of the first universities issuing these mobile devices.
“We hope these changes to our mobile computing platforms will continue to enhance student learning and expand communication to our students,” said John Hermes, chief technology officer.
“It is our intention at Oklahoma Christian to provide our students with not only the latest technology, but with the tools needed to be continuous, life-long learners and productive citizens wherever life may lead them,” said President Mike O’Neal. “Even more important than the technology is the faculty’s role in teaching the students to discern what is important in a time of information overload, to think critically, and to apply their education most effectively in service to their families, their employers and their global communities.”

With these new mobile devices the university will also launch several new and updated web applications. “The iPhone will take the university’s one-to-one program to the next level,” said Luke Hartman, OC’s academic multimedia specialist. With the switch to Apple, the university will also launch its new mobile web application, “InTouch.” 

“The InTouch application will give students a mobile portal to course information, campus events, and local entertainment in the palm of their hands,” Hartman said. “And since Oklahoma City and Edmond both support AT&T’s 3G network, the iPhone will work well for students even when they are away from the campus-wide wireless infrastructure—keeping students ‘in touch’ no matter where they are.”

The university has also upgraded other online web applications that have been used for the laptop program, including a flash card application and an “instapoll” application, allowing faculty to poll a class and receive immediate results from the student laptop, iPhone, or iPod.

“These two programs are the first steps in allowing students to be deeper in touch with their educational process and will complement two very different aspects of learning,” Hartman said. “By making use of Apple’s touch events, students can flip through ‘cards’ giving students a sleek and convenient 21st century approach to the old method of note cards for memorizing information.
“The instapoll is at the other end of the educational process,” he said. “With this program faculty members can, in a matter of seconds, write on-the-spot questions for their classes and receive instant feedback as to how well the students are grasping the information. This puts more of the control in the hands of the students. Our goal is to help faculty and students see just how limitless this electronic initiative can be. We know this is only the beginning.”

Faculty will also benefit from the new initiative as the Apple MacBooks make it easier for them to create multimedia courseware. The iPhone or iPod will help push educational resources such as discipline-related podcasts to students to supplement or enhance their learning.

“AT&T’s 3G wireless network, combined with Apple’s powerful new iPhone 3G device, will serve Oklahoma Christian students well and help further their education in an exciting new way,” said Lora Lee Laird, director of sales, AT&T Oklahoma. “AT&T is proud to play a part in bringing the iPhone 3G to OC students and faculty, and we hope the success the school sees with this program will serve as a model for other educational institutions.”

AT&T’s third-generation (3G) wireless service offers consumers and businesses broadband-like speed and access to the latest interactive voice, video and data applications. AT&T’s 3G network opens the door to a new era of mobile services, devices and feature-rich audio and video content, including the simultaneous sharing of voice and live video.

Since 2005, AT&T has invested nearly $200 million in Oklahoma to expand and enhance its wireless network, including a planned $50 million investment in 2008. The AT&T 3G network is now available in more than 300 U.S. major metropolitan areas. The company will deliver 3G service to nearly 350 leading U.S. markets by the end of 2008, including all of the top 100 U.S. cities.