In a move to extend the academic learning environment, Seton Hall University in New Jersey is offering free smartphones to the entire class of 2016.
Seton Hall’s Mobile Computing Initiative has been providing students and faculty with laptops since 1997, but mobile technology has grown a lot since then and, this year, each new student will be issued with a Nokia Lumia 900.
The university is already partnered with Microsoft and, by introducing the Windows Phone 7.5 smartphone, it hopes to extend existing Windows services for incoming students.
“The Lumia 900 was the logical choice for our project as it provides deep integration with our Microsoft infrastructure, critical native academic (Office) and social applications (People Hub, live tiles) and extensive multimedia consumption and creation tools in a high-quality form factor on the fastest cellular network,” said David Middleton, executive director at Seton Hall’s Centre for Mobile Research and Innovation, to Jason Harris on the Conversations by Nokia blog.
The high-speed network he is referring to is AT&T’s 4G, and all freshmen will receive pre-paid service on this network through the fall semester.
A unique freshman experience
Currently, all Seton Hall students have access to SHUmobile, an app available across multiple platforms that provides access to campus news feeds, directories and maps.
But the upcoming class of 2016 will be getting more than just that, with access to a custom Freshmen Experience component of this app exclusive to the Lumia 900, featuring social media integration, housing information and direct communication channels with their peers, academic advisers and roommates.
The university also plans to communicate with students via Nokia Data Gathering, conducting polls and providing essential information for their first year at college.
“Mobile technology has become ubiquitous and pervasive, but we are just beginning to understand the breadth of its impact across campus,” said Michael Taylor, academic director of the Centre for Mobile Research and Innovation. “Smartphone use in higher education has tended to rely on finding a specific app to fulfil a specific curricular purpose. With the close collaboration between Nokia and Microsoft on the Lumia 900, the phone itself takes centre stage.”