The Strength of Weak Ties

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Now They've Gone and Done It

The Chicago Tribune reports today that one school district in Illinois is now permitting the use of iPods during the school day. Glenbrook High School District 225 (Glenbrook North and South High Schools) has instituted a policy that basically allows iPod use everywhere except for classrooms.

Good for them.

Conversely, the article mentions West Chicago High School in West Chicago, Illinois, who is instituting a policy banning all electronic devices because of fears that students are "tuning into the music and turning out the instruction." This comment is from their superintendent, Lee Rieck.

How about making instruction more engaging?

Better yet, maybe they could find a way to use those electronic devices in instruction.

For example, could kids sit in a study hall and learn Chinese if they had an iPod? Sure they could, with ChinesePod, which offers 515 Chinese lessons for the iPod.

But back to Glenbrook....

Now the most crucial point, and I wonder if they have thought about this. It will be interesting to see if the leadership at Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South (you're on the clock, Lisa and Ryan) develop alternative suggestions to music for their students? Will their web site offer suggestions for downloading educational content? Who will be the first teacher that produces podcast content so that kids can listen to a lesson or test review on their iPod? Will the schools computers now have iTunes on them? And will they allow kids to create content for their colleagues iPod's? Will kids create digital stories for their classmates video iPod's?

Maybe kids will just listen to music. But then again, maybe they won't. Imagine offering new learning opportunities through the iPod, new content creation opportunities. All of this is now a possibility at these two schools. It will be interesting to see how the iPod not only changes the dynamics of passing period, but of classroom instruction and learning.

I know people who work at those schools. They're smart people. I hope they realize the new learning possibilities that they have just opened up for their kids. I hope they take advantage of them.


  • At 9:36 PM , Blogger Kevin said...

    I smiled when I saw the front page of the Trib this morning. Not just as a student who wouldn't mind being permitted to rock out between classes, but because teachers at these schools can now use this technology to their advantage.

    As an aide (and former student) in the MIDI Music class, I produce a podcast that showcases the compositions students have written. They're doing similar things in the band department at North. My English teacher regularly plays NPR clips from his iPod. That's just the tip of the iceberg.

    It's naïve to say that the majority of students are going to start listening to lectures during their study hall, but once teachers start actually using this technology, there's bound to be some student interest. Of course, that would mean the iPod ban is lifted at my school. ;-)

    At Downers South, the "no music devices" rule isn't that strictly enforced. In at least one of my classes (a self-paced, technology course), the teacher permits us to listen to music during class. Then there's my old Chemistry teacher, who reprimanded me merely because I had a pair of headphones around my neck.

    A case can be made for permitting music devices to be used within the building, and this article proves it. But it'll take some work (at least in my district).

  • At 7:23 AM , Blogger Carolyn Foote said...

    Speaking of constructive uses for iPods, we bought several for our campus specifically because of the many free language and ESL podcasts, as well as things like the free Princeton review word of the day.

    We've also been exploring with teachers the use of iTunes on their desktops at our campus. Because the classrooms have projectors and speakers, they can subscribe to any podcasts or video podcasts they want and share them with the entire class as a lesson starter, or as the lesson itself.

    The main issue we are running across is just how to manage the content on the actual iPods we purchased--we've run into some problems with our networking and where iTunes saves to on our network, but that's more of a local issue.

  • At 6:08 AM , Anonymous Christopher Webb said...

    I'm looking into creating podcast content for a yearbook production class I'm teaching. If I could put together 30sec-2min tutorials, I wouldn't have to repeat myself the million times that I do throughout the semester. I plan on putting them together over the next year or so.

    I also use my iPod in class to play the audiobooks of what we're reading in class. We used to read The Great Gatsby in class, but I found we were spending too much time finding someone to read, so now it's easy. I plug-in and play while the kids follow along in their books. The kids love it, and for some reason, they're more apt to think about what they're reading/listening too. I've even had some kids purchase other Fitzgerald audiobooks. They seem to like that new technology.

  • At 4:23 AM , Blogger William said...

    I am also learning Chinese by a special and innovative service in Beijing Chinese School. I like to learn in live class with teacehrs from Beijing directly. I also like to practice Chinese with volunteers freely everyday. Watching Chinese learning TV on CLTV is also interesting and helpful to practice listening and learn more about Chinese culture.


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