Educators Embrace iPods for Learning
Students can use their iPod touches in plain sight in Mark Schuler’s World History class at Roswell High School here. The portable devices and the telltale ear buds are also welcome in the hallways, library, and cafeteria.
Roswell officials, unlike most of their counterparts around the country, have changed their view of the MP3 players, seeing them less as contraband and more as educational accessories. Educators at the 2,400-student school in suburban Atlanta are hoping to put more content at students’ fingertips and capture their interest by enlisting the digital tools today’s teenagers have already mastered for social and leisure purposes.
“Five years ago iPods were banned, but we got overwhelmed with trying to discipline kids and fight the technology,” says Edward Spurka, the principal of Roswell High. “Our philosophy here now is let them have it, ... so we’ve allowed all those resources out in the world to be on their person.”
The school’s pilot program, which integrates iPods into Advanced Placement classes and encourages appropriate applications for other lessons and activities across the curriculum, was introduced as part of Georgia’s educational technology plan. The initiative, being rolled out in 60 high schools across the state, uses federal funding for hand-held technologies as a means of expanding access to and success in rigorous high school courses for underrepresented student groups.
“We thought this would be a great way to engage learners and deliver more-rigorous material to them,” says Becky Chambers, who manages the AP program for the Georgia Department of Education. “Oftentimes, kids have technology but they don’t use it for substantive work, only social media or for pleasure such as listening to music. They don’t recognize the power of these devices to improve knowledge and skills.”
The state program provides grants of up to $64,000 to districts—funded primarily from federal Enhancing Education Through Technology, or EETT, grants—to buy the portable devices and provide professional development and support services to teachers in AP courses.
Copyright 2009 by Editorial Projects in Education. All rights reserved.
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