Is the new iPod practical for education?

Posted: September 5, 2007 in Apple, Education, Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, iPod, School, School 2.0, Technology, Technology Integration, Web 2.0

The new iPod Touch with wifi and internet capabilities seems like a handheld device that may have come to the right place at the right time. I can already imagine several ways of using this device in classrooms from research to assessment. What do you think? Does the iPod Touch’s form factor and capabilities make it practical for use in a classroom setting? Sound off, the debate is on!

iPod Touch

  1. TeacherJay says:

    I don’t see how the “touch” feature adds anything to education – and the pricetag certainly doesn’t help ($299 for 8GB or $399 for 16GB). I do think the integrated WiFi is a good step though. Many universities seem to be toying with the idea of using iTunes and iPods to capture lectures and other course materials. See some info here on GWU’s pilot program from Fall 2006. I work on a different college campus where I have tried to get professors to use it, but they get touchy about intellectual property, and the fear that students will then not attend class. Also, it may be difficult to get students to use it if it is not required, and I could not require it unless I could ensure access to the equipment – iTunes is easy to put on lab computers, but then it opens up the issue of students purchasing music that is stuck on hard drives and some students still don’t have an MP3 player at all.

    I do think podcasting is a neat way to get information out and tap into a resource that students are already comfortable with, but adoption will be a little slow – it’s not a perfect tool yet and seems to actually create problems – not solve them.

  2. I have always been a firm believer that multi touch technology is going to change education. You can build programs that harness that multi-touch technology. Just think back to the wow factor the first time you saw someone demonstrate one of these displays. Manipulating art data and ease of input. Now what you have is really a mini computer. I hate to disagree with TeacherJay, but there is potential there. Yes the pricetag is still big, but in really you are putting a powerful computer in each student’s hand! Sign me up!

  3. TeacherJay says:

    I don’t disagree that multi-touch interfaces are the way to go, but I don’t think the devices we are finding them in are very helpful, i.e. iPod Touch and Microsoft Surface. My qualms are not with the technology and how it may affect education, but with the specific device. The iPod was not designed as an educational tool, but as one for entertainment. To just put it into a classroom and tell students and professors that it can be used as such without a clear purpose in mind, and one that has a definite advantage over non-tech methods is irresponsible. Of course, the iPod is a powerful computer, but does that mean that it presence alone will change education – of course not! Jeff, you mentioned that it would be possible to build programs that would harness that multi-touch technology, but you didn’t give us any examples… what would you do with it that would make it worth having.

  4. nhokanson says:

    Great questions and comments TeacherJay and Jeff! Thank you for your always welcome views. Obviously the new iPod is in its infancy, and it is difficult to surmise how much of an impact it may have in a classroom setting at this point. The first thing that came to mind for me, unfortunately, is that this device, or something like it, could solve online assessment issues we keep running into as web based tests increase system requirements. This is not how I want to see technology driven in education, via assessments, but it is a real issue in the NCLB era. Instead of having to purchase new laptop and desktop computers to meet this requirement, I hope for a handheld device with a cheaper price tag, that can fit the bill. The iPod Touch may not be that device, but I think it is pushing the possibilities as did its predecessor the Newton. However, the device must be programmable in order to match or come close to the adaptability of a laptop or desktop computer. For now the iPod Touch seems to have its limits, but think how far the iPod has come to this point in time. If the iPod or another such device allows the installation and easy manipulation of educational programs it would be a valuable device. Nevertheless, with what we know today it would be limited as far as utilizing tools we use on computers such as photo manipulation, video editing, word processing, etc. The keyboard is also a chain that keeps us tied to the machines we know and use, and I think robust voice recognition software would lead to huge leaps in handheld use. I suppose it is all a matter of time and innovation that will make it possible.

  5. Brad Kovach says:

    I bought one because they are cool, and I’m a joiner. My school has had iPods for years. So far, we’ve been too afraid to unleash them. 😛 We have ActivBoards and recording software in place to record lectures, I’ve built blogging architecture for the district, but nobody can seem to fit the pieces together, even with my help.

    There are misconceptions about Podcasting and its very nature (subscribe and forget it) and teachers don’t understand formats. Apple has fed this disaster by making podcasting so easy. What they don’t tell you is that their podcasting solution is iPod/iTunes only in several ways (RSS feed, media files such as AAC, Bookmarked AAC). Apple needs to quit bullying the industry and start swimming with the rest of the fish.

  6. TeacherJay says:

    Whatever Happened to Carmen Sandiego?…

    …did she die from dysentery on the Oregon Trail? Ever since the Apple II began making its way into homes and classrooms the software market has been making games and other applications designed to be educational. How have they evolved?, Are th…

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