Can you imagine trying to hold the attention of a room full of 18-year-olds who have in their hands a university-approved toy that is way, way, way more fun than that talking head up at the front of the room droning on about the Laffer curve or Smoot-Hawley tariff (and yes, I pulled "Laffer curve" out of dim memory and I would have to look it up just like you did. I knew what the Smoot-Hawley tariff was, but I love typing "Smoot").
Apparently more students choose the iPhones than the iPod Touches. So too bad about that comparison shopping you did for the least expensive way to keep the kids in touch with the family, Mom and Dad. The iPhone is strictly an AT&T device, and I'm also going to bet that these schools do not pick up the service contract for all four or so years Li'l Darlin' is enrolled at their institution.
The opening paragraph of the Forbes story has an interesting verb in it. According to it, the schools are "giving" these devices to incoming students. I'm going to bet again (I'm gambling a lot for a preacher, aren't I?) that the tab for these devices, no matter how low Apple's education discounts might make it, is somewhere in those thousands of dollars that Mom, Dad, Uncle Sam and several civic organization scholarship programs have poured into the ivory tower's coffers. Kid wants an iPhone and asks Mom and Dad for it directly, and they say, "Cut the grass a few dozen times and you'll have earned it." Kid gets a dean of students somewhere to ask for the iPhone for him, and out comes the checkbook, no questions asked.
I've got nothing against iPods, iPhones or technology on campuses. It is to laugh, though, when university administrators say with straight faces that initiatives like this have something to do with learning. Maybe they do, however rarely that is. But that's not the main reason Wannagetchamoney U offers them.
They offer them because they know that it's a great bell and/or whistle to dangle in front of Junior when he or she is picking a college: "Hey, you don't want to go to that stuffy old college where you have to read books, do you? Look at us. We're wired. We're high-tech and cutting-edge. You know, you might even say we're...cool. We're cool enough that we'll even tell your parents that this iPhone is for educational purposes, but we'll all know it's for texting when the prof gets boring. And anyway you can wiki all the jabber-jabber he's putting out so you'll be totally ready for that test. Did you see the pictures of all our neat dorm rooms and the neat way our classes meet outside when the weather's nice, and how the university president wanders around during the day talking to random groups of ethnically diverse students?"
I wonder sometimes if the marketing students were the only ones who paid attention in class...