Here is an updated version of my July 13th, 2007 blog post from my other blog. I post it here as well because I think that it belongs here more than it does on the other blog.
Want to get the most out of your students by incorporating the gadgets that your students already have? Want to turn those cool objects into mobile learning platforms? Here’s an idea: download educational video from Unitedstreaming and upload it to your (or your students’) video iPod! For those who do not know, Unitedstreaming is an educational video site that is jam packed full of videos, most of them Discovery channel videos. There are videos for all subject areas, for all grade levels, and even PD videos for teachers. While this is a site that requires a paid registration, talk to you school or district administration as they may likely have something in place with Unitedstreaming already.
To access these videos on your iPod, you will require at least 5th generation iPod or a 3rd generation iPod Nano as only these can handle video (the 1st and 2nd generation iPod Nano cannot play video!). You can download the video in Quicktime movie format or in Windows media format. If you or your students are using a Mac, download the Quicktime movie, upload your movie to you iTunes library and viola, you or your students have a created a mobile learning environment. If using a PC, you will likely have to convert the file to m4v or mov format. To do this, you can use one of the many free conversion tools available – one I recommend is Zamzar.
The idea is to make learning enjoyable, fun, multi-sensory and mobile. While I have recently read a scathing article discussing the pitfalls of the iPodification of education called “Socrates in Earpods – The IPodification of Education“, I would argue that if learning is fun and accessible to students, then they will learn. The attitude that I often hear, and tones of it is found in the above article as well, that ‘this is the way I have always taught and it has always worked for my students’ is quite disturbing to me. Today’s society is all about digital communication and the digital communication devices. For those of who have taught 20-30 years, think of how different society was when you first started teaching and how different your students are now. Yet on average, our classrooms run like they did 100 years ago, using learning models that were appropriate for teaching students who would live in an industrial society of mass production and assembly line manufacturing. Today’s students do not, and will not live in that world. Multi-modal and multi-sensory learning are crucial in today’s education of students. True, multi-sensory learning also includes tactile learning and tactile learning is important as well. I am not advocating that students should learn everything on the iPod. However, if we can utilize these devices on more of a regular basis in our classes, it will also incorporate another dimension into learning and make it mobile. Fun learning is still learning. Education system these days try to instill the concept of life-long learning into students. What better way to do this than to demonstrate to them that learning doesn’t just happen at school but ultimately happens everywhere! Let’s make our classes, especially our history classes, fun and enjoyable learning places by incorporating modern tools into today’s teaching.