Our research center has been looking into acquiring some iPod Touches to use with K-12 students in our research lab, the AT&T Classroom. I’ve been poking around on the web a bit, and collected some stuff that will help us in making our decision.
Personally, I think the iPod Touch has great potential for teaching and learning, both inside of school and out, and I really like the interface quite a bit. There is something about the tactile manipulating content on the screen with your fingers as opposed to having to use a mouse, stylus, or other input device (Think manipulating the world in Google Earth on a Smartboard with your hands. If you haven’t tried that, you should, it’s pretty cool).
I started by looking up some information about pilot projects at other education sites, and came up with (among the 174,000 hits I got off of Google):
Shepparton High School in central Victoria in Australia : where students used the devices for a variety of things. The most interesting quote from the short article is this one by the project’s lead teacher: “We assume that 14-year-olds are really technologically savvy, but they’re often not.” I think we tend to forget that. Here is also a discusson about a small iPod Touch project at another school in Australia.
Abilene Christian’s ACU Connected Project: I blogged about this one extensively last week, when I saw their stuff at the Mobile Learning 09 Conference in Washington DC. They’ve done quite a bit in a short period of time, and I’m waiting to see what material they will be posting online from their own conference. I like what they are doing with the iPhone and iPod Touch with regards to communication with students, but I think that what they are doing is much more difficult to achieve in a K-12 environment, especially given the current hesitancy in K-12 for using any technology that allows students to communicate with each other and others outside of school.
In, “An iPod Touch for each student?”, there is discussion of Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill, NC getting iPod Touches. The story is accompanied by some cautionary commentary by E.D. Hirsch (“”Technique and how-to ideas have taken the place of deciding what it is, exactly, we want these children to learn”) and a few other schools where the device are being used already. This project did get off the ground. Interesting quote from the Business Week article was made by AVID coordinator Chuck Hennessee who said
“one of the only negatives he has seen so far with the program is that students sometimes would rather use the iPods than work with each other. But he said that can be a plus, too, because it cultivates independence.”
Other than that, the project seems to be going well.
Some additional interesting sources include:
Tony Vincent has a section devoted to the iPod Touch on his Learning in Hand site.
Kathy Schrock wrote a short series of posts on her experiments with an iPod Touch (lots of good info here, exactly the type of stuff I was looking for)
Chris Webb’s post, “Why an iPod Touch in Education?” with a list of apps and some additional pertinent information.
An iPod Touch in Every Classroom by Kelly Croy, from Wes Fryer’s blog. Lots of odds and ends here.
And that’s just the beginning. It remains to be seen (just like with any other “new” and “disruptive” technology) how quickly the iPod Touches will be adopted in K-12 and on what kind of scale. As I’ve said many times before, schools really need to start a serious discussion about how to integrate the use of student owned devices in the classroom, as it provides opportunities for learning that we currently do not really have (e.g. students in most mobile projects only have access to a device for a limited period of time, e.g. one year, and often only in school). Of course this type of implementation brings about a host of other issues, but that’s for another post …
Image Credit: “Touched” from littledan77′s photostream: