Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ipods as instructional tools

When I came upon the article “Ipods in the Classroom” I was struck by a few things mentioned there.

“One aspect that is not so obvious, or for some reason forgotten is the clear usefulness that an iPod could have in a classroom setting.”

I guess I have enjoyed my Ipod for my own use but had not really thought about how it could be used in the classroom and all I could think of was, “What a great idea!” I also liked the thought that there were other positive benefits that could develop by using an Ipod in the classroom.

“If we look a bit deeper, we can also conclude that this will have a positive change in the environment, as paper waste will be reduced because of this. In other words, the potential to learn with the iPod and the ability for it to be beneficial is absolutely astronomical.”

Of course, another main concern is implementing the use of the Ipod in the classroom and how to convince the administration that it can be useful in the classroom.

“The only question is if anyone or any facility can implement it correctly allowing the students to benefit from all of the above mentioned features without having to suffer from the abuse of using the iPod the wrong way in the classroom setting.”

According to this article, “Reviewing for a test could be just a click away on your iPod,” An Ipod “enables students to review instruction in preparation for exams, clarify confusing concepts and make up for missed classes.” What a great tool for students who have trouble retaining material (such as special education students)! It is also great for students who miss class due to illnesses or some other excuse. It can be used as a bridge between the school and the home as parents use this in order to better help their children with homework or to open up discussions at home about this new knowledge.

Like any other piece of equipment used in the classroom, an Ipod can be used as a distraction. But so can the TV (to watch noninstructional videos), the computer (to do noninstructional tasks), a CD player (to listen to inappropriate music), or a pencil and paper (for doodling or writing notes). I feel it is up to the teacher to set the boundaries for using equipment in the class and by showing that the students can use them appropriately, the administration will be able to witness the benefits. I had the same concerns when I used CD players so students could listen to books on CDs as I do about using Ipods in the classroom, so I decided to make a list of the problems that I could foresee happening and then decide how I could prevent them before they happened.

1. Problem: Administration prohibits the use of Ipods.
a. Get prior approval before introducing them in the classroom’
b. Have a plan of action in hand showing how they will be implemented

2. Problem: Getting a classroom set of Ipods
a. Write a grant to buy a classroom set of Ipod Shuffles (approx. $60 apiece)
b. Submit a proposal to donorschoose.org asking for a classroom set of Ipods
c. Talk to PTSA (parent teacher student association)
d. Talk to civic organizations such as the Rotary or Lion’s club

3. Problem: Students stealing each other’s equipment or breaking equipment
a. Have number engraved into each Ipod.
b. A letter will be sent home to parents explaining how the Ipods will be used in the classroom. Parents accept responsibility for any damage or loss if an Ipod is taken home and fails to be returned. Parents and students understand that only the teacher may be download material onto that Ipod. Any failure to follow the rules will result in loss of privilege to use the Ipod.
c. Students sign out the Ipod and intial when returned the next day.
d. The teacher will check for any damage before and after student signs for it.
e. If a student brings their own Ipod for downloads, they must be checked in with the teacher at the beginning of the day and will be returned at the end of the day (these will not be used during the school day).

4. Problem: Inappropriate material will be heard on the Ipod
a. Only the teacher may download material on the Ipod
b. The teacher will review all material on the Ipod when returned.
c. Inappropriate material found on the Ipod will result in loss of privilege to use the Ipod.

These are the same rules I used with my CD players (except the downloading part since my students could use their own CDs). I never had any CD players stolen or broken when I let them take the CD players or the Books on CDs home. Since they were thrilled with the privilege of having one to use, many of them took care of it like it was a priceless gift. I believe there comes a time when we have to take the risk of trusting the students to do what is right. It is like the self fulfilling prophecy and if we believe they will do the right thing, most of the time they will.

By using tools that are available and that students are comfortable with, we can make their learning environment a successful place for them to be!

Photo credit: Ipod Shuffle by diagneurotic


Joel said...

I bought an 80GB iPod Classic in December (the price finally became close to reasonable). I have since loaded music that our band classes are playing on it and have played them for the kids to hear.

I have put links to the mp3s of the music on our band website and encouraged the kids to download them and put them on their iPods at home. Some have shown me that they have done it.

loonyhiker said...

Joel: You make me jealous! that 80gb is the next on my "gotta have" list. Hopefully when we get home from vacation, I will be able to get one (or maybe I will see a bargain on it somewhere in our travels!)