The use of iPods are being trialled in as an educational games link between teacher and children. On the surface it may seem like a PR stunt, but this state of the art technology is set to establish the same sea change as when the iPod replaced the Walkman.
The Essa Academy in Bolton UK is issuing an iPod Touch to each of the 900 children in the school. Linked to the school’s wi-fi the iPods will allow the teacher to communicate with the children by email and vice versa. And before you shout – children will not be able to email each other! This not only reduces the traffic by a factor of 400 but prevents the illicit email with last night’s homework or the answer to the question just asked in class.
By linking to the teacher’s receiver, a child’s comment or work can be displayed on a white board gaining greater interaction and saving the child having to walk to the front of class. Critically many teachers’ state white boards only engage the child standing at the font answering a question or manipulating the controls. The rest tend to drift awaiting their turn. The time lost between a child walking to the front of class and returning takes about two minutes. Sounds peanuts but with 30 in a class each having a turn it would take two hours of a 45 minute lesson!
Similarly an augment exists whereby a significant portion of the expenditure on white boards was wasted with many teachers merely using them as “blackboards”. The projector doesn’t work or the teacher is unfamiliar with the controls. The iPods, being student based and with continuous interaction, will engage children in the lesson and not just from the novelty factor. The instant features of the equipment induce spontaneity – no waiting for a laptop to boot up, to make the lesson more productive without waiting for a child to raise a hand.
To create ownership and responsibility all parents will be responsible for an insurance premium of £12.50.This feature was trialed in the USA with laptops resulting in a remarkably low number being damaged. No longer will the teachers’ handwritten notes be illegible. Course work can be preprogrammed and stored on disc. A major advantage will be the engagement of the inhibited child reluctant to put a hand up in class who is now able to hit the send button.
Inbuilt access to Wikipedia and Google et al will allow information to be researched in real time. A point not understood can be double checked. It all bodes well provided the children are instructed in the iPod lesson etiquette. It has phenomenal potential. Teacher’s workload could be eased substantially; homework could be emailed in electronic format and marked intelligently without deciphering handwriting. Plagiarism can be checked using software and a child’s performance recorded and analyzed in real time for on line parental updates.
Ipods could herald a resounding change in the schooling process and even induce educational games being played on the way home aiding the learning process. All without a text book in sight to carry in the school bag. The opportunity needs to evolve and trails are bound to reveal adjustments in the format but the scope for this development is enormous. If it boosts learning it could do down in history as a ground breaking initiative that started a new wave in learning.