Sunday, February 21, 2010

Learning with a class set of ipod touches

intro-iphone-cutcopypaste-20090608 I know this isn’t anything terribly new.  Teachers around the world have brought sets of ipod touches into their classrooms.  This isn’t something our District has embraced yet.  I recently received an email from our Apple account rep with details on leasing a class set of ipod touches.  I forwarded the information to a middle and an elementary school principal who have previously expressed to me their interest in trying this approach to supporting student learning.

So what, we buy these, a teacher takes a risk and embraces these devices for their students.  What are the learning opportunities?  How does using these devices compare in terms of learning value to using a netbook or laptop?  Although I’ve seen some great examples of using ipods, touches, and cell phones in classrooms, I’m not sure that any of these devices replace the need for a laptop or some sort.  The small devices seem to me to have too many limitations to be able to replace a laptop.  But, I can see how they can serve as an additional learning device.

Sonya Woloshen is a relatively new teacher in our District who has thoroughly embraced the use of technology including ipods in her classroom.  I sat in on her grade 8 class last year to observe her students using ipods of various types including touches.  The kids brought their own PODs (personally owned devices) from home and shared them with each other.  Sonya had kids gather around ipods, viewing and listening to French phrases.  They also read aloud (in the hallway) French text and podcasted themselves into her ipod touch for her to review and mark later.  Later the kids gathered in groups of four around the seven ipod touches that were available and each group spent 10 minutes researching (on the Internet – it was a wireless classroom) a different topic related to a socials unit they were completing on Medieval times.  Then each group report out their findings to the whole class.  Everything seemed to be quite seamless and natural for the kids and Sonya.  I was quite impressed.  She was interviewed by Dave Truss about her views on PODs for a presentation he gave last year (included here).
I would like to provide good classroom examples to school principals in our District such as the two I mentioned earlier that are considering a 1:1 “project” with ipod touches.  In particular, I’m interested in classroom activities, assessments, methods, etc. that use ipod touches to support student learning connected to curriculum (embedded).  I am also interested in things teachers have tried that didn’t work.  Also, I would like to know what people found to be limiting about these devices when compared to what could be accomplished with laptops.

I know there are hundreds of educators out there that can share their experiences good and bad of trying to integrating the use of ipod touches into their classrooms to support student learning.  I would appreciate you taking a moment to share your learning with me (and others) here.  I’d love to be able to provide some good advice to school principals in my District.