Shenandoah University chooses eco-friendly MacBook

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Shenandoah University has chosen Apple’s environmentally-friendly MacBook computer and the iPod touch as the foundation for its new mobile learning program. University officials said Apple’s commitment to the environment was crucial in its decision.

“It was a key factor in choosing the MacBook,” Bryon Grigsby, Shenandoah's senior vice president and vice president for academic affairs, told Macworld. “The university's strategic commitment to the environment and sustainability partners very well with the MacBook's pro-environment elements.”

Apple says that its MacBooks are made with recyclable aluminum and glass enclosures, mercury-free displays, and arsenic-free display glass. In addition, the printed circuit boards, electrical components, mechanical parts, and internal cables are BFR-free and PVC-free.

Beginning in the fall of 2009, all incoming full-time freshmen, some graduate students, and a portion of the full-time faculty at the Winchester, Va., school will receive a MacBook and an iPod touch. Apple is also providing 100 loaner computers to the university.

The university’s goal is to create a “classroom flip” model of learning. Instead of spending class time on lectures, quizzes, and videos that student can access on the computer, faculty will spend more time working with the students.

This isn’t the university’s first foray into using laptops on campus. Grigsby explained that Shenandoah had an optional program that used Leveno Thinkpads, but said the new program brings a different approach to learning.

Using all the technology available, Shenandoah will also provide iPod touches for students and faculty. The iPods will be used to notify students of campus events, professor office hours and locations, and course changes.

“The university community sees the iPod as a vibrant connection tool that will allow us to come together and be fully informed of what is going on in and around campus,” said Grigsby. “We are also seeing ways that our daily business can be done online—students can register, pay bills, or see next semester's offerings easily and quickly.”

The response to the mobile learning program and the use of MacBooks and iPods has been very positive from both faculty and students.

“Faculty are excited by the novel ways material can be brought to students,” said Grigsby. “They see great value in creating podcasts to replace in-class lectures, using information from outside experts through iTunesU and developing applications that enhance student learning and test knowledge and skills.”

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