lasierraiphone1

La Sierra University, a Christian college in Riverside, CA is giving each new freshmen their choice of a brand new iPhone 3GS or iPod Touch. If that isn’t cool enough, the whole school is gearing up to be “iPhone friendly”, adding more Wi-Fi hotspots on campus, creating apps specifically for the university, and offering an iPhone app development class.

This is all part of the appropriately named Blackgold program, intended to keep the school on technology’s cutting edge and provide students with new tools for enhanced learning.

sas_orientation1Unfortunately, students who choose the iPhone will have to pay the monthly phone bill, but the iPod Touch is contract free.

Just imagine an entire campus connected with the ultimate functionality of the iPhone. The possibilities could be endless. The University has increased the benefits by creating an app to specifically fit the need of its students.

LaSierraMapAccording to their site, the app will allow you to perform many school and leisure related tasks right from the your device. Students will be able to send a messages to anyone in their class or dorm, or just to a friend or professor. Also, students should be able to view continually updating social, academic, and athletic calendars with sports scores from La Sierra’s teams.

Another proposed feature is a campus map with real-time GPS location so you can easily find your next class. The app will even have a searchable campus directory with department and faculty contact info, just in case you need your teacher’s email to ask for an extension on that paper you’ve been putting off.

Future updates of the app will include the ability to pay your tuition, sign up for classes, check your grades, and even buy textbooks from the bookstore.

Not happy with the way the current app works? La Sierra gives you the tools to design your own. Beginning the first day of Fall quarter, September 21st, the Computer Science department will be including the iPhone as one of its main programming platforms. The professor teaching the app development class says:

La Sierra Technology“La Sierra is one of only a few institutions participating in the iPhone Developer University Program that allows this level of interaction while developing applications. Normally, a developer must sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and agree not to discuss their project with others. This program modifies that NDA to allow the students to learn from each other and their instructor. If a student is interested in posting their app in the App Store, they can purchase a $99 Developer Standard account to do so.”

Sadly I won’t be eligible to receive a free iPhone (and yes I am a student at La Sierra), but I will be able to benefit from the many other new additions implemented by the Blackgold program.

While the iPhone is a great tool for learning, it is also one of the biggest distractions in my life and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. I mean, just imagine trying to pay attention in class the day after you received your first iPhone.

Let us know how you would behave in class if you were just given your first iPhone or iPod touch?