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Editorial: J school must end technology requirement trend

April 19, 2011

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Maneater editorial board.

A School of Journalism faculty committee's exploration of potential new technology requirements for incoming Journalism students is cause for concern. Although no decisions have been made, some faculty members suggest the iPad could be the next required poison Apple in line for students and Brian Brooks, the associate dean for undergraduate studies, is pushing for the device's implementation.

Considering that the iPod touch requirement was nothing but a bust in the J school, forcing students to purchase an expensive device that is hardly, if ever, used in courses, it’s troublesome that J school administrators are already looking into future requirements. The iPod touch requirement was sold to incoming students when it was approved in spring 2009 based on the plan to intensively use the technology in introductory journalism classes. As any J school student knows, this didn't happen, and we have no faith that the school will be any more effective in utilizing an iPad into coursework.

Brooks admitted in the past that the requirement could not be enforced, though propaganda-like literature sent to incoming journalism students convinced them that, if they owned anything but an iPod touch or, God forbid, nothing at all, they would most likely fall behind in their studies, as the technology was intensively utilized (even though it wasn’t).

Even more troublesome is that, at the time the requirement was approved by Journalism Faculty, only nine people out of 49 opposed the measure, and they did so on the grounds that they should not require only one brand of technology.

Furthermore, the technology “requirements” don’t stop there. In upper level classes, students are required to buy expensive programs like Foliotek, iMovie and iWeb packages and other software which, often times, are only used once or twice.

Class curriculums should be designed around content. Leave it up to the student to decide if they'd rather record an interview on a new iPod touch or a simple tape recorder. Massive, general technological requirements do little for productivity, considering they are rarely utilized, if at all. It’s also offensive to assume that it’s the parents that pay for the technology when, in fact, large numbers of students take out their own loans for their “required” MacBooks and iPod touches.

We strongly urge the J school to stop requiring new technologies for their students, especially when they haven’t even found useful ways to utilize the current ones, like the iPod touch. Even though some students could be reimbursed for the iPod Touch, it was only after purchasing the $2,000 MacBook Pro package.

When administrators push every new device in Apple's product line every couple years, the policies cease to be requirements. They aren’t even friendly recommendations — they’re endorsements.

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Article comments

April 20, 2011 at 12:15 a.m.

Boutique Web Design : Yeah! Good point here. Everybody likes technology but few try to understand them.

April 20, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.

Alana Young: I couldn't agree more! As a senior journalism student, I am well aware of the usage (or lack thereof) of all these "highly recommended" but not required Apple products. It is completely misleading, and the emails, fliers, etc received from the journalism school before your freshman year insinuate that without these products, you won't be successful in the J-school. I think the journalism school is receiving money or something from Apple to widely endorse all Apple products to the students. I think its ridiculous, and creates a culture within the journalism school that makes you feel as if you have to be rich to be successful in the J-school. Between the laptop, the expensive programs, the clothes (for broadcast majors), additional software, etc. you have to spend a lot of money to be a journalism student. SO NOT RIGHT. We are already paying so much to attend this University, not to mention additional course fees for all journalism classes.

April 20, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.

Anonymous: I have always wondered about how far the partnership between Apple and The University of Missouri went. What kinds of contracts exist? Is there any exchange of money? Etc.

April 30, 2011 at 3:33 p.m.

Carrie Brown: I think it's more complicated than this, although I'm not a big fan of making people buy a particular brand, and I'm not sure a case can be made yet for required tablets. I'm extremely sensitive to student finances and often eliminate textbooks in my courses at U. of Memphis, but in all honesty, some basic tools are just so essential in journalism today. A smart phone of some kind, a camera of some kind and a laptop are such important tools. Students that don't have these simply will not be as well prepared as those that do. I've seen this happen over and over again. It also shapes in many ways what we can teach. I'd suggest that if you were required to get an iPod Touch and you never found a reason to use are doing it wrong, whether there were explicit assignments or not. You never saw ANY "news" and sought to document it? Seriously? If somebody has to tell you to, you may not be ready for this job.

Aug. 1, 2011 at 11:44 a.m.


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