As a follow up to my previous post, Abilene Christian University announced that they will give iPhones or iPod touches to incoming freshman next year. What this announcement likely means is that there will be considerable pressure put on the university’s web developers to successfully integrate existing systems and external tools into one seamless experience for users. A demo is provided at acu.mobi (which they explain is best viewed in Safari as it’s designed for the iPhone).
I am heartened to read one quote from Christopher Gibbs, a programmer at ACU, when he states:
“There are a number of challenges when it comes to creating applications for the iPhone. I won’t go into all of them but the biggest is usability. Some people say content is king, well I say usability is king. This is true with any program or website but especially true on the iPhone, where you have a very limited interface.”
Some pressure might come from the administration on down in terms of what should be available, but I hope the team gets a lot of bottom up participation (i.e., students, non-tenured faculty, etc.) when they try to work on the how – how to implement features and functionality in both a usable and desirable way.
The United States is playing catch up with Europe in terms of our level of maturity with mobile devices, but this trend will certainly play out nicely in the education arena, particularly given the high rate (45% of teenagers of teenagers in 2005) already using mobile devices for a variety of needs.