FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, July 10, 2006

Colleges, Students Connect via Cell Phone

The Fourth of July has come and gone, and you know what that means.  It's back-to-school time!  Well, in another couple of months, that is... When college students return to campus this fall -- perhaps even before -- their schools will be leveraging the power of the cell phone more than ever to stay in touch.

With 90% of all college students possessing mobile phones, campuses are ripping out money-losing land-line phone jacks in dorms and in some cases providing students with free or subsidized cell phones.   At some campuses, students can get real-time alerts about class assignments, cafeteria menus, and shuttle schedules.  Some also provide GPS-enabled mobile phones that, among other things, allow students to activate a tracking service so campus police know their whereabouts for safety purposes.  "Police can track a student's trip on a large screen in a bread-crumb sort of way until the student deactivates the service," said Edward W. Chapel, who helped implement a GPS system at Montclair State University.

On some campuses, the decommissioning of land lines is controversial, as some worry that cell phones won't be as reliable in case of an emergency.  The University of Cincinnati, however, is one school that sees mobile technology as the way of the future, and the cell phone as an ideal medium to keep their students informed.  "The landline probably will be obsolete in five years or so, and we want to be in the forefront of new technology," said Frederick Siff, UC's chief information officer. "Students don't carry laptops around constantly, but they always have their cell phones."

Source:  AP (via Excite)