Sometimes, you just have to shake your head when you hear stories like
"Duke University freshmen will get something even more trendy than a Blue Devils T-shirt when they arrive next month: a free Apple iPod digital music player.
On Monday, the university announced a deal with Apple to distribute 1,650 of the hand-held gizmos to first-year students. Duke will get a discount and give them free to freshmen -- for keeps."
You’d think that the university would want to spend the money on making textbooks, which are a legitimate hardship for lots of students, more affordable or even free, but it’s hard attracting applicants with the promise of free books. Apparently the $500,000 promotion, er, initiative, provides iPods for recording lectures, language lessons, and audio books, and will also enable students to download information through the Duke web site’s iTunes Music Store knockoff. Which is helpful because students couldn’t do any of that before the iPod (except for the ITMS part). Future Nobel Laureate and Duke freshman Mollie Tucker of Raleigh said of the idea, “Whoa! It sounds like a good idea. It sounds really cool.” Uh, yeah.
Latest news - Ok, so the above info was from an announcement made Monday. There is an update to the situation that was posted yesterday.
So it looks like handing out free iPods willy-nilly to all incoming first-year students might not have been absolutely the most optimal use of that $500,000. Duke plans to continue their free iPod program next year, but will only be offering the players to students who actually enroll in courses that make use of the iPod as part of their curriculum, after they discovered that less than 40 percent of the incoming students had enrolled in such a class. Next year’s sophomores are going to be expected to keep their iPods on deck for any classes they take which use them — wonder if Duke is going to kick in to replace all those batteries, eh? Apparently the faculty’s reaction to the program has been very mixed, but the IT unit that coordinated the program still feels that without having done so, Duke “wouldn’t be having such active discussions about what value new technologies have in teaching.” There ya go, kids — we encourage every one of you to try that line on whatever institute of learning you happen to be in. Let us know if you score a free iPod.