Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Using iPods in the classroom

Upon hearing about iPods in the classroom, my first thought was that it was not a good idea. However, after reading some of the things that have been written about it my mind is beginning to change. Duke University in Durham, NC began an initiative in the year 2004. Incoming freshman enrolled in specific classes were loaned an iPod to use in their classes. Tracy Futhey, VP for information technology and chief information officer at Duke, said, "Until this project, iPods were mostly considered to be an entertainment device, but no one had explored their untapped potential for education. The idea behind this project was to put an incredibly easy to use, highly mobile and versatile device into the hands of our creative faculty and students to find out what kinds of academic uses they would discover." I think that the iPods do have a wide range of ways to be used in the classroom, but should be used with supervision in the younger students. According to one student at Duke, not many freshmen were using the iPods as intended. This student felt that it made Duke look "rich and silly" for loaning out the iPods to students who did not use them properly for educational purposes.

For elementary and secondary classrooms, the ideas would be the same. Teachers could create content on their iPod and then sync with the iPods that the students are using. They students could also download content from iTunes and other approved sites to enhance their learning. One site I found was Podcasts for Teaching and Learning, click here. There is a list of sites that would be helpful for content on an iPod. I did come across a blog entry that warned about copyright infringement. A teacher can not just record herself reading a book and then distribute the recording to her students via iPod. This is against the law, although from reading the blog, more teachers than not do this. There are many books that you can find on iTunes and other sites to download and distribute for free. You could try these sites, Storynory, click here, an about.com page,click here, and LibriVox, click here. There are many more out there, you just have to look.

I think that iPods in the classroom are a great idea in theory, however to be practical we have to realize that not every child can afford an iPod, nor can every school afford to give or loan iPods to every child. So, while this program is great in theory, it will be a long time if ever that it is implemented for every school.

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