I have to be careful not to get too excited when a gizmo lands on the desk for us to evaluate at Sheffield East CLC. Having said that I was really looking forward to getting my hands on the iPod touch after hearing so much from other schools and CLC’s about using them.
I’ve had a few weeks to play with one now, although we haven’t used them with students yet, so I thought I’d capture my initial thoughts as an aide memoire for later. As with most things my opinion is likely to change but at least having this as something to refer back to might be useful.
What the iPod does is documented much better elsewhere so I’m not going to discuss that.My main point is a question, really, based on a conversation I’ve had with my boss. It’s this…
To what extent does the iPod Touch actually contribute to pedagogical change?
I start from the assumption that mobile learning is about transforming how learning happens as well as when and where.
The iPod is a great device for delivering content which is what it was designed for. It’s fun and a breeze to use for listening to podcasts, watching videos, looking at websites etc. It gets a lot harder when you try to actually create stuff and contribute.
Text input is fine for short spells but that gives quite a narrow field of ways of getting students to contribute to their own learning. If you want students to capture audio you’ll need to invest in earphones with built-in mic (which can cost up to £20). There are some nice audio apps (AudioBoo being one) but transferring sound out for use elsewhere can be a pain.
The lack of camera for stills and video is a big miss and would open up the door to myriad possibilities for developing visual literacy.
Also, a browse through the apps store for education titles is pretty uninspiring (although there are exceptions – I hope to do another blog post about some of my faves in the near future). Most are about drill-and-practice skill honing or showing information (sometimes in quite engaging and attractive ways, mind).
I don’t buy the idea that by giving a student a mobile device so they can access delivered content anytime and anywhere makes it a learner-centred experience. You need to maximise opportunities for the learner to record and reflect on their own experiences and the iPod isn’t quite there yet although it’s a step in the right direction.
They key thing, though is that the device on it’s own isn’t going to be transformative other than perhaps adding novelty or increasing engagement. The learning culture around the device needs to find ways of using its capabilities to allow the learner to create and reflect more easily.
I’m not down on the iPod. I love it as a device. I just think that anyone investigating it as a learning tool should think as much about the environment the iPod will be used in as much as what the machine can do.
What are your thoughts on the iPod? Put me straight if you disagree…