Central planning at its finest

More iPod fun today:

Don’t assume that Duke University students carrying Apple iPods around campus are listening to the latest hits.

They might be studying.

This much is certain: An increasing number of professors at Duke and other college campuses are experimenting with making lectures and study materials available to students via iPods and other MP3 players.

No surprise there. College campuses generally incorporate technology quickly. I’ve been connected to the Internets in some capacity since 1991, thanks to Virginia Tech’s leadership in exposing students to technology. I had “high-speed” (19.6k Rolm) access my freshman year. If iPods had existed then, I’m sure some portions of the university would’ve required them. There’s one difference, though. We wouldn’t have pretended this was true:

Duke University has become a case study in the national iPod experiment. A year ago, all incoming freshmen were given a free iPod.

It’s probably safe to assume that “free” means the iPod was required, so the university included the cost in its tuition charge, unless Duke is suddenly in the habit of giving a few hundred dollars to each student just because it makes the administrators feel good. It’s possible that I’m wrong and Duke bore the cost, or arranged some sort of marketing agreement with Apple. I doubt it.

Post Script: Quick research proves how free the iPods weren’t. They cost Duke $500,000 from a special technology fund. Perhaps the funds came from donors, so students didn’t feel the cost directly. However, the article mentions legitimate technology needs, like dorm security, that Duke didn’t fund. Are iPods more important than students being safe on campus? Does that impose a cost on students?