Editorial: J school must end technology requirement trend

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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