Published: Jul 20, 2004
Modified: Jul 20, 2004 6:02 AM
[SIZE=4]Duke freshmen will be attuned to iPods[/SIZE]
By JANE STANCILL, Staff Writer
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.
The iPods generally are used to store and play music; the 20-GB model, which the students will get, can hold up to 5,000 tunes. But the Duke students, being brainy and all, will use the iPods mostly for academics.
Or so Duke hopes.
“Whoa!” said rising Duke freshman Mollie Tucker of Raleigh when she learned she’d pocket an iPod. “It sounds like a good idea. It sounds really cool.”
When she arrives Aug. 19, her iPod will be loaded with all kinds of useful information, including orientation schedules, calendars, campus tours, even the Duke fight song.
Students also can use them for course content, such as recorded lectures, music, language lessons and audio books. Throughout the year, they will be able to download information through a Duke Web site modeled after Apple’s iTunes site, where people can download songs legally.
The program is a one-year experiment, but if Duke likes the results, it could be renewed. Although it is limited to freshmen, upperclassmen enrolled in a class where the devices are being used will get a loaner iPod.
The university will spend $500,000 on the initiative, which includes hiring an extra technology specialist, giving grants to faculty, studying the outcome and buying the iPods. Duke would not say how much it will spend for each iPod; the model retails for $299, according to Apple’s Web site.
The program fits into Duke’s plans to intensify the use of technology in learning, said Tracy Futhey, Duke’s vice president for information technology.
“This was a project aimed at satisfying those goals through a device that is immensely popular with students,” Futhey said.
Lisa Merschel, a visiting assistant professor of Spanish, is pumped about iPod possibilities. Her students will use them for homework lessons, pronunciation practice and listening to novels read by native speakers – at their own pace. When they study past-tense verbs, for example, they can listen to Gloria Estefan sing “Ayer.”
“The iPod will provide students with a much more rich multimedia experience,” Merschel said.
Duke is the first university to distribute iPods widely to students, an Apple spokesman said.
It might seem an extravagant back-to-school item, but remember, students pay a premium to study at Duke – $39,240 a year for tuition, fees, room and board.
Plus, this is a campus so wired that it has Internet connections on lampposts outside of Krzyzewskiville, where students camp out for basketball tickets.