New Jersey university offers free cell phones to incoming freshmen

Jul 20, 2012 14:02:41Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

New Jersey university offers free cell phones to incoming freshmen

Cellphones have become an integral part of life, which can sometimes interfere with classroom learning, but one school is embracing this growing trend. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Seton Hall University in New Jersey is issuing free cell phones to incoming freshmen when they attend their summer orientation.

New Seton Hall students will receive smartphones with pre-paid cell phone plans that will help them connect with their peers as well as academic advisors. This way, they will be in contact with the school, even though they aren't on campus yet. These devices may also help with mobile security and will be able to notify students quickly if an emergency occurs.

"We need to be able to reach [students] and connect to them," Michael Taylor, an associate professor and the school's academic director of the Center for Mobile Research and Innovation, told the news source. "We want to [provide] a device that's always on, always connected, and tends to always be with the student no matter where they are."

The school also plans on integrating the cell phones into their curriculum. Not all of the professors agree with this new strategy, as they simply see this as a way to condone students using their phones during class. But administrators have different predictions, according to the media outlet.

The school officials are hoping these efforts will lessen the amount of time a student uses their phone during class for personal reasons. It may also help students learn to decipher when it is and is not appropriate to be on their devices.

"We want to have faculty who are engaged and using the phones for specific things in the classroom, but the power's really from the student perspective," Taylor explained to the news outlet. "The bigger picture really is, 'How are these students going to adopt this technology and use it in order to really make themselves more active and more engaged and more plugged in to the learning environment?'"

Cell phones in the classroom have been a topic of discussion for quite some time, and professors are changing their viewpoints consistently. A City College professor shared his story on InsideHigherEd about how he was strictly against the devices in classroom. After he had his first child, he saw the advantage of having a cell phone, and he has been including cell phone use in his syllabus ever since.