Should University of Florida Require Students to Own an iPhone?

iPhone required at UF

A friend of mine at the University of Florida in Gainesville is starting at pharmacy school this fall and just found out she’ll be required to purchase an iPhone or iPod Touch for the curriculum.

According to UF, some of the pharmacy courses will have programs designed around the devices. The iPhone has a number of apps that can aid students, including “medical reference applications, blood glucose monitor accessories, and software that allows obstetricians to use their iPhones to remotely access virtual real-time and historical waveform data for their patients,” according to AppleInsider.

On the one hand, an iPhone could help any student be productive. I use iPhone’s Calendar, Todo and WeDict apps to stay organized in school. However, I know from experience that the iPhone can also be an incredible distraction, and a hindrance to learning if students aren’t disciplined enough to use it for the right purposes.

Some of the benefits of UF’s policy to require iPhones or iPod Touches for students:

  • App Store offers useful apps to aid medical learning
  • Aiding distribution of classroom podcasts, such as lectures and other classroom materials
  • More efficient communication — everyone will possess the same device

Potential downsides of mandatory iPhones or iPod Touches at UF’s pharmacy school:

  • High cost of purchasing the device, although it could potentially be covered by financial aid
  • Distraction in the classroom — iPhone is essentially an inconspicuous personal computer
  • Deterioration of learning if students rely on the device too heavily for information
  • It’s a covert endorsement by an educational institution of a select corporation — sort of like when schools offer only Pepsi products throughout campus

What do you think?

Should the University of Florida’s pharmacy school require students to purchase an iPhone or iPod Touch? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments.

Update: Read the story in the Independent Florida Alligator.