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July 19, 2011

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Professor's iPad requirement, dismissive tone stir a tempest

A local university teacher has created an uproar by telling his students to bring iPads to class and advising those without the device to give up choosing his class, which he called "a luxury."

His comments on Weibo stirred heated debate and many criticized him for looking down on the poor. University authorities have begun looking into the case after yesterday's public outcry and said they will ban the unreasonable requirement if it is true.

Henry Liang, who teaches finance in English at the Shanghai Maritime University, issued this notice on his microblog last Friday: "In next semester, all PPTs, tests and resources will be presented in iPad format only."

"iPad represents the latest trend and superiority, so do my chosen students," he wrote. "If you don't have one, take part-time work to buy one; if you cannot earn merely 4,000 yuan (US$618.4) in the two-month summer vacation, you are not suitable to learn finance or be my students," he wrote.

Moreover, he ordered male students to wear suits and females to wear simple make-up in class to prepare themselves for their future jobs in the finance industry.

While his comments on Weibo created much debate, some admired his innovative teaching methods. Koralle, who claimed to have attended Liang's class and lectures, said: "He is a rare good teacher with his own thoughts, though he is sometimes very radical."

However, more people commenting on the microblog criticized him for his arrogance and imposing a financial burden on students.

"The poor should get an equal opportunity," said Juanlianmenami. "The requirement is not fair for the poor."

Some accused the professor of lacking morality. Haidaoyidazhi asked students with iPads to play poker, chat or eat in Liang's class to humiliate him.

Liang changed his microblog ID and deleted the posts and wrote new ones in English over the weekend that carried a defiant tone.

"Chinese like win in tongue, but I like win the real," he wrote. "iPad will still be brought into classroom. Formal wears are still required. I still keep all my opinions as yesterday. Nothing changes! I win all the real. You can claim victory in tongue, but nothing more."

Shanghai Daily contacted Liang yesterday but what he said differed from the imperative tone online.

"I deleted some posts because I realized that I have used some inappropriate words," he said.

"I wrote in English because I only want my students to read it. It's not for the public. I don't care about their criticism.

"It's still two months away from next semester. My plan for next semester is not mature yet."

He said he choose the iPad because it contains helpful and cheaper financial tools such as a professional financial calculator. Moreover, students can read financial newspapers and magazines on the device.

He told Shanghai Daily he will change his edict for students to use iPads to a recommendation.

Converters will be provided to students to help them study the materials on all kinds of PCs.

He also changed his requirement for formal suits, making it an award for extra credit.

University authorities are watching and waiting.

"The university disapproves the iPad requirement on students," said Peng Dongkai, a university official. "We will see how the teacher teaches his class next semester. The university will intervene and call a stop to an unreasonable requirement."


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