Incoming freshman at the University of Missouri’s journalism program need to come armed with either an iPod Touch or an iPhone, based on new requirements by the school’s dean.

A statement from the University says the main purpose of the requiring the device is to give students access to downloadable lectures, “from iTunes University, a no-cost component of the iTunes Store.”

“Lectures are the worst possibly learning format,” said Associate Dean Brian Brooks, according to the Columbian Missourian. “There’s been some research done that shows if a student can hear that lecture a second time, they retain three times as much of that lecture.”

By mandating the iPod Touch or the iPhone, the school is able to have the devices covered in a student’s financial aid package.

“If we had not required it, they wouldn’t be able to do that,” Brooks said.

The school’s computer store, Tiger Tech, provides deals to students buying Mac Books and Mac Book Pros, which are already required by the school – you can get a free iPod Touch along with a new purchase.

How the devices will help journalism students, however, has gotten mixed predictions. Ninteen-year old student Taylor Dankmyer, who is just finishing his undergraduate freshman year at Mizzou, had an iPhone before coming into school but doesn’t think it’s necessary for his reporting training.

“I love my iPhone and when I want to prove my friends wrong about some random fact, I can use my iPhone,” he said. “But I could use just about any other PDA or a blackberry. Honestly, if I am a print journalist, I might take a few photos with my iPhone, but most likely I am going to use one of the fancy cameras that the j-school provides that my tuition pays for.”

Some students have begun to vocalized strongly against the requirement for what they see as an unfair partnership between the school and the Apple brand.

Journalism student Elizabeth Eberlin started a Facebook group called “Rotten Apple” to voice her opposition to a brand preference by the school.

“I really like my Apple computer, but I don’t think people should be forced to buy one brand of computer or one brand of anything, she said in the Missourian. The Facebook group asks supporters to oppose forcing “incoming students into an unnecessary and expensive relationship with Apple that we believe compromises journalistic integrity.”

“Soon, it will be ‘The Missouri Journalism School, brought to you by Apple,’” Dankmyer says.

The school, however, insists that it is not giving Apple an unfair advantage for business, but rather that the iPhone and iPod Touch are the most commonly used mobile devices among its students and many are already familiar with them.

“There’s a lot of theory out there that says what you want to do is engage students in realms where they are already comfortable, and we know a lot of students are already familiar with iPods and iTunes so we want to get into that space and take advantage of that,” Brooks said.