In a recent interview with the The Chronicle of Higher Education1, Bill Gates was asked how tablet computers can make a difference in education and responded:
Just giving people devices has a really horrible track record. You really have to change the curriculum and the teacher. And it’s never going to work on a device where you don’t have a keyboard-type input. Students aren’t there just to read things. They’re actually supposed to be able to write and communicate. And so it’s going to be more in the PC realm—it’s going to be a low-cost PC that lets them be highly interactive.
I agree with the first part of his statement because the curriculum and pedogy need to change to make any technology worthwhile. However, he is wrong about the need for keyboards. My middle school students have done complex work on our iPod Touches, such as creating documents that use desktop publishing skills involving typing, creating charts and inserting images. Due to Apple’s intuitive software design, students are quickly able to get past the lack of hardware keyboard. Moreover, they don’t necessarily see the lack of keyboard of as a limitation. Since a third of their lives have been dominated by touch devices, they don’t see keyboards as a prerequisite for using a computer.
For our first day of winter vacation, my wife and I spent some time in my classroom bar-coding and labeling my iPods. We also labeled each slot in the cart.
That process went fairly quickly, but I also wanted to upgrade all of the iPods to iOS 4.2.1. That took much more time because I could only do one device at a time. However, by following these directions from Fraser Speirs on how to save the update file locally, I saved close to 10 minutes each device.
The iPod Touch 4th generation cases that I bought on Cyber Monday arrived today. I was worried about some of the bad reviews on Amazon, but they seem to be high enough quality that they should work in the classroom.
With the help of my super-supportive wife, we managed to finally get the first set of 20 iPods unboxed and into Cart2D2 for charging. I love the look of the LED lights in the drawer while charging.
On the other hand, the look of 20 devices in iTunes for syncing is a little intimidating. I’m not looking forward to upgrading 20 devices to iOS 4.2.
I just purchased cases for my iPod Touches thanks to this tip from OS X Daily. This premium black soft gel silicone skin case normally sells for $29.99 but is currently listed at $2.39. I’m a littler worried that the Amazon reviews are so divided. It has roughly the same number of 5 star and 1 star reviews so people must either love it or hate it. Still, this find is a relief because I was starting to worry I wouldn’t find cases in my price range.
My Bretford iPod cart arrived today. Unboxing was easy, but I spent over an hour trying to figure out the best place to keep it in the classroom that would have access to power.
Also, the cart already has a nickname: Cart2D2.
Link: History of the iPod Infographic
I must have purchased my first iPod in 2004. It was the 3rd generation, but it was a gray-scale screen, not the full color one that did photos. It lasted me about four years, because then I bought the 2nd generation iPod Touch in 2008. I hope the 4th generation iPod Touches I just purchased last four years.