An Apple for the Teacher?..Nope. For the Student!

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Everyone will soon be gathered round the dining room table, thanking whichever higher power the family subscribes to, and catching up on jobs, romances, and lives at college.

Many college students began the fall semester with a treat which in years past, was commonly presented to the teacher by their students…an apple.

But this year, students beginning their fall semester at many of the nation’s colleges and universities, received their own apple treat…an Apple iPod of iPhone.

The use of mobile technology in higher education is in its infancy.

The uber connected generation totes laptops to classes.  But many complain that because of their heaviness and bulkiness, the laptops aren’t the way most stay connected to the internet.

Cellphones are always carried.  So students are looking for something lighter for constant internet access.

Into this market opportunity stepped Apple, recognizing that priming college students with iPhones, iPods, and the iPod Touch would hook young consumers with “decades of technology purchases ahead of them.”

Jud Davis/Freed-Hardeman University

Students at Freed-Hardeman activate their iPhones. Experts say uses for mobile technology in education are in their infancy.- NY Times

The question then became discerning what applications would be most productive for the students.

Once thought to be viable for simply consuming content, these devices are uniquely being used to create” content” by both professors and students.  But perhaps even more importantly, students are learning to use these devices as an adjunct to content.  They’re learning the process, which will give them a distinct advantage in their professions, once they’ve left the college environment and step into the workplace.

Learning opportunities outside the classroom abound.

Christopher J. Dede, professor in learning technologies at Harvard University, recently commented in a N.Y. Times article that, “My colleagues and I are studying something called augmented reality.”

“Alien Contact, for example is an exercise developed for middle school students who use handheld devices that can determine their location.  As they walk around a playground or other area, text, video or audio pop-ups at various points help them to figure out why aliens were in the schoolyard,”  reports Jonathan Glater of the N.Y. Times.

Dede opines that, “You can imagine similar kinds of interactive activities along historical lines, like Boston’s Freedom Trail.  It’s important that we do research so that we know how well something like this works.”

While Apple declined to elaborate on precisely which institutions gave out devices, reportedly the University of Maryland, Abilene Christian, Freedman Hardeman, and Oklahoma Christian University were among the universities.

Stanford and M.I.T. were rumored to be considering options.

In fact, Andrew J. Yu, the mobile devices platform project manager at M.I.T., stated that the iPhones might have been “everywhere,” if not for AT &T not having a reliable network.

So ask your kids and your guests.  How have they been using their mobile devices at school?  In conjunction with their studies?  In their personal lives?

And perhaps most importantly, explore how and if these devices are teaching our students to think critically.

You’re bound to see education with a new perspective.

Innovation is important; but it cannot replace the skills students need to learn if the U.S. is to remain at the competitive forefront in the global economy.

For more:

Welcome Freshmen. Have an iPod./NY Times



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One Response

  1. […] John Prescott, BostonKayakGuy wrote an interesting post today on ipods in the learning environment;here is a quick excerpt […]

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