Mar 24, 2011
Pioneer JC to help students get iPhone after creating app
AT LEAST one junior college is working to get lower subscription rates for iPhones, and sponsorship for students who cannot afford one. The idea is for all students to be equipped with the smartphone, so they can use a specially created app launched yesterday.
Pioneer JC's (PJC) plan is for all its students to have the phone by the end of this year, said principal Tan-Kek Lee Yong.
It has spent $4,000 and worked with a vendor to develop an app to facilitate communication between the school, staff and students as well as enhance teaching and learning.
Through the app, students will get live updates of information by PJC as well as direct access to a learning portal where notes and quizzes are stored.
But not even all the staff have an iPhone. Based on a survey in January, half of its 1,650 students and 70 per cent of its 150 teachers have the smartphone, said Mrs Tan.
PJC has secured a collaboration with telco M1 for its teachers to purchase an iPhone at a lower rate than the one it retails at. For the students, the school is in talks with the same telco for a subsidised subscription rate.
Mrs Tan said two more roadshows will be organised during upcoming meet-the-parents sessions so parents can decide whether or not to purchase an iPhone for their children. For students who have difficulty paying for one, PJC is 'looking into the possibility of getting sponsorship', she said.
With the personalised app, teachers and students will be able to access the school's updates, lecture notes and quizzes, she added. 'This generation of young people is quite tech-savvy. Students, teachers and parents will be able to retrieve information on the go. It's more convenient; they don't have to get to a computer.'
That is attractive to students like Daniel Chee, 17, a first-year student who owns an iPhone. 'It makes studying more convenient. During bus rides, I have been able to try online quizzes.' He has also used it to catch up on announcements he might have missed as they are uploaded as tweets.
Those without an iPhone, like first-year student Baviniaraj Rajendran, 18, are thinking of getting one.
'I was not that fond of an iPhone but, seeing the convenience, I might consider getting one,' she said.
Other JCs said they also use mobile devices for teaching and learning but do not insist on students buying one.
Hwa Chong Institution, for instance, started using netbooks for lessons in 2008 when it was earmarked as a 'future school' - schools which harness technology for teaching and learning. It has since moved on to using other devices like the iPhone. 'We don't insist on one particular device. For students who cannot afford to buy a laptop, they can borrow one from the school,' said its spokesman.
Raffles Institution said it is currently developing a mobile app that will be launched later this year, so its students can access the latest news about the school via any mobile device.