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Are iPods the next big teaching tool?

These days, it seems a teacher can’t turn around without seeing a student with those signature white headphones covertly hanging from his or her ears. Rather than fight the iPod epidemic, teachers can use it to their advantage.

In a 2007 article, the Pew Research Center reported that more than half of American teens own an iPod or MP3 player. The number is up from 1% in 2003 and expected to keep on rising (Pew Research Center/2006 Harrison Group). Since students are spending numerous hours a day listening to their iPods, they can become an invaluable tool for teachers who want to tap into students’ interests.

Apple offers free educational tools, educator-created lesson plans, downloads, podcasts and more with iTunes U [Access at http://www.apple.com/au/education/ or by dowloading iTunes and browsing the iTunes store], but there are endless possibilities beyond what Apple has to offer.

Classroom Podcasts
Since some students retain more through sound than sight, podcasts can provide an alternate study aid to traditional book chapters. You can record entire lectures, classroom discussion, review games or short topic summaries. The most effective podcasts are typically 6-10 minutes long.
Audacity offers free podcasting software and an easy-to understand tutorial for beginners:

Now is the time to expand a child’s iPod world. Audiobooks can make reading a more recreational activity for busy students. They can listen while exercising, driving or sitting on the bus. Make "reading" a habit!

Student Projects
Using the same techniques detailed in the podcast section, have students produce their own music, old-fashioned radio broadcast, theatrical readings of plays and stories, or news shows. They can record video or audio as an MP3, post it online, and share it with the class.
You can see examples of how more than 200 classrooms are integrating podcasting and digital media at the Education Podcast Network (http://epnweb.org/ ).
An extra bonus: parents will love being able to share their children’s work with friends and family.

Language Learning
Whether you’re working with ESL students or teaching a foreign langague, bringing a language to life will make it infinitely easier for students. Students can listen to fluent speakers for extra practice outside class or record themselves to work on pronunciation.

If you already have tapes or CDs, students can upload them to iTunes and their media player. Need more resources?
Check out Open Culture's foreign language page for free language and ESL podcasts. http://www.oculture.com/2006/10/foreign_languag.html

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