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Campus chooses Apple

Friday, February 29, 2008  
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By Jonathan Cannon

Choice is not something students have faced over the seven-year history of Oklahoma Christian University's "one-to-one" pledge. However, beginning in August, students will be faced with a number of different choices. Buy-in or not? iTouch or iPhone? Mac OS X or Vista?

After research and negotiating with Apple computer, the Oklahoma Christian administration decided to switch to Apple.

"It has nothing to do with any problems we've been having with Dell or any dissatisfaction with the Dell product," Chief Technology Officer John Hermes said. "It was more of a decision based on the technology to provide our students with a better learning experience – a different mobile learning experience – with the built in cameras and the iLife software. All those things played into that."

The new computers will have the ability to boot Mac OS X, Windows Vista and possibly a third operating system such as Linux.

"It gives students a choice, and it meets their needs. Those that need Mac, can use Mac; those that want Windows can use Windows," Hermes said.

This new technology is especially advantageous to students in the music and art and design programs, giving them the option to use Mac OS X while still allowing students to have Windows.

"I was trying to think of a way we could reinvigorate our Dells," Hermes said. "But we needed to address something that's been bugging us for a long time: that is the ability to address things for the music and art students and also somehow to address the need for [computer science] students to be able to test things on multiple platforms."

The new computers also include built in webcams, DVD burners and a number of other cutting-edge features.

Hermes approached Apple about providing the campus with a Mac option for certain majors.

"I was a PC guy; I didn't like Apple: period. I really was looking at it as a true option," he said. "I didn't think anyone else would want to use one."

However, the Apple product quickly impressed Hermes. With its ability to run both Windows and Mac OS, Hermes began considering a campus-wide distribution of the system.

"It actually ran Vista better than my Dell ran Vista," Hermes said.

Hermes began considering making the switch campus-wide, but there were still many concerns to address, the greatest of which was price.

"The technology fee will not go up. So, within the technology fee the students are already paying, we feel like they'll be getting a comparable – if not better equipped – Apple machine, plus an option to have an Apple iPhone or iTouch," Executive Vice President Al Branch said. "We feel like it's a real win for the university, to not have to be paying any more for what appears to be really cutting-edge and great technology."

It also had to address concerns about repairing the new systems.

"We're training to become an authorized [Apple] repair center so we can do repairs on site," Hermes said. "I think that's a big advantage for our students if you can bring your laptop in and get it repaired the same day or the next day and not have to send it off and have to wait two weeks for it to come back."

There were also many concerns among faculty members about capability issues and the ability of IT to service multiple platforms.

"To me it sounds like there will be opportunities to iron out issues as they come up, and between the advantages we're going to gain – between available software and reliability, in some cases – is enough to offset any initial potential difficulties," Technology and

Learning Sub-committee Chair Richard Wright said.

In addition to the Macs, students will also be given a choice between a 16 GB iPhone and an iTouch, which Hermes said he hoped would eventually become more than just an exciting add-on.

"I think it gives them the benefit of access to the iTunes University and podcasting and other things that we hope to do," Hermes said.

Faculty members will be able to use iTunes University to post podcasts, slideshow presentations and videos of themselves for their students to view on their iPhones or iTouches. The program will also provide the campus with 550 GB of storage to post these materials and help legally provide copyrighted material for students to use outside of class.

"If there's music that I wanted to use in class I can play it, but if I want students to access it on their own I can't provide them with the mp3," Wright said. "So, I need some kind of streaming material environment or some kind of sharing facility that will keep that internal. My understanding is that the iTunes University can help make those kinds of materials available."

The arrival of the new laptop vendor will also bring a new job to campus for one student. Apple will pay one student to market Apple on the Oklahoma Christian campus. The "campus rep" will throw events on campus and distribute marketing material. Besides being paid, the rep will receive an Apple computer. For more information about the position, visit campusrep.apple.com.

The distribution will begin for incoming students with the first orientation session in May. Faculty will also receive upgrades at the same time. Current students will have the option to buy-in to the new laptop on an incremental scale depending on their graduation date. Students seeking additional information on the new MacBooks can visit www.oc.edu/apple.

Buy-in Cost

April 2009 Graduates:
$795

April 2010 Graduates:
$545

April 2011 Graduates:
$295

MacBook Specifications:

    * 13-inch screen: White
    * 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    * 2 GB memory
    * 160 GB hard drive
    * Mac OS X Leopard
    * Windows Vista
    * SuperDrive 8x (DVD+/-R DL/DVD+/-RW/CD-RW)
    * 4.5-hour battery life
    * AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi
    * Apple Remote
    * iLife '08 (includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb and GarageBand)
    * Microsoft Office 2008
    * Built-in Webcam
    * Built-in Bluetooth 2.0


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