Shock news: Flinging iPods at learners does not facilitate learning

OK, perhaps that’s a bit OTT but from what I can gather Duke have set themselves up for a nasty fall if they’re looking for a 6 month impact on T&L outcomes.

Via Ray, this article goes into some serious detail about the project. Media stunt or not it’s an interesting experiment in the use of new technologies in a HE setting although unfortunately it looks like this might be another case of starting in the wrong place…

Let me put it this way: if all your students have iPods they’re pretty much useless for any T&L purpose unless your teachers / peers are regularly ‘casting .mp3s which they might find useful & engaging. Granted, students can use them to record lectures (like a dictaphone) or listen to language learning materials (like a walkman) but that dual purpose really isn’t worth $500k, is it?

I’m not at Duke so it’s hard for me to speculate much further but perhaps the biggest mistake I’ve seen educational institutions of all shapes and sizes make over and over and over again is to put the students ahead of the teaching staff. In basic ‘satisfaction’ terms this is daft as happy teachers = happy students (you can’t bypass that, sorry!) and perhaps in this case, not hitching up to student use (as, say an implementation of IM might), teachers using the technology = students needing/wanting to use it too.

So you can throw iPods at as many of them as you want and they’ll be utterly useless… get the staff podcasting first though and then when you do give out the players you’ll see some results!