iPod’s Educational Angle

Wired News: Duke Gives IPods to Freshmen

This is such a cool idea for distributing multimedia curriculum:

Students also will be able to use the devices to download course content, recorded lectures, foreign language lessons, audio books and music from a special Duke website modeled after iTunes. The school will supply voice recorders for some classes, enabling students to record notes while working in the field.

Imagine the implications – one could retreive supplimental course info at any time, from a centralized Intranet website, or possibly via kiosks, and have instant access to all their downloaded material at any time. Giving this technology to each students allows curriculum developers to really get creative and go after new directions in creating educational material.

The kiosk idea gets even more interesting now that I think about it. Imagine having a kiosk at an art museum or where visitors could just download an audio tour. Or how about a symphony hall, where visitors might be able to hear a pre-concert lecture and recorded versions of the music selections long after they’ve enjoyed the live performance. Of course, such a kiosk would somehow have to figure out how to just download a few specific files without trying to sync the whole damn iPod, but that seems like it would be a simple software issue. Alternately, downloads from a website would do the trick, but then you lose the physical presence effect of having a kiosk within the perimiter of a building.

Language learning comes in particularly handy with an iPod. I have imported all 32 of my Pimseleur Mandarin level 1 & 2 CDs into mine, and can review any lesson I want to work on at any time. I have 16 more CDs to add when level 3 arrives.

I think what Duke is doing here is outstanding, and I am betting that many more will follow. I wish that I had this kind of technology when I was in college. Heck, all I had was a Mac SE and access to a bunch of Quadras in our computer lab back at NEC. I mean, that was cool and all at the time, but iPods as a means of enhancing curriculum at a music conservatory is a no-brainer. It has to happen eventually…