Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

iPods and Podcasting Technologies to Support Talking and Listening Experiences of Grade 4 Students

Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

iPods and Podcasting Technologies to Support Talking and Listening Experiences of Grade 4 Students

Article excerpt


The push to incorporate technologies into educational experiences is not a new phenomenon. Indeed, the introduction of technologies of 'old' into classrooms--chalkboards, books, pencils, pens, overhead projectors--were surrounded by similar tensions as what we see today with the incorporation of computer-based technologies, associated peripherals (for example, digital cameras, scanners) and mobile technologies (such as iPods). There appears an ever-increasing range of technologies available for incorporation within classroom learning experiences.

It has been argued that there is a partition between the technology that is used within everyday life and that that is used in many classroom settings (Dede 2005). Sanford and Hopper (2001) report that teachers need new skills and understandings to further consider how they can better support and engage their 21st century students. Such students, often referred to as 'millennial learners' as they have been heavily influenced by information technology, need to be taught using the technology they are accustomed to (see, for example, Dede 2005, Oblinger 2003). While there appears to have been a global movement to implement modern education technologies at a tertiary level (Oliver 2001), it appears the advent of the use of iPods in other educational settings is just starting.

New technologies such as iPods and podcasting permeate the lives and daily routines of many young children as they engage with these technologies in a variety of ways. An iPod is a small, portable music player which now has video capabilities and can be updated when connected to a computer. Podcasting is a method of syndicating electronic content automatically to a computer through RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. More simply, podcasts are audio files (with the possible inclusion of video and other media) that are available for download through the internet. The use of iPods in education is still a relatively new concept, much as the Internet was a decade ago. The opportunity to investigate possibilities for their use in classrooms is both timely and necessary.

Considerations for the incorporation of any technology within a classroom setting

The introduction of any new technology seems to be veiled with the notion of 'promise'--what it will do to revolutionise the classroom, how it will change the work of a teacher and how it will support and contribute to student learning. Indeed it has been argued, 'if every student, teacher, administrator and staff member in every school had his or her own easily carried computer to be used throughout the school day, integration of technology into the curriculum would probably be accomplished with ease' (Frazel & Souza 2003, p. 4). However, there appears to be a trend of disappointment after technologies have been introduced with them not really meeting initial expectations. Students are reported to describe technology use as 'awesome' and 'way cool' within the classroom. Indeed, the use of technology to support student learning is reported to be 'very amenable to learning the use of technology' with 'reluctant learners often inspired by the use of technology' and 'students who are academically talented will use technology to exceed our expectations and discover successful learning experiences of their own' (Frazel & Souza 2003, p. 4). However, reports from teachers can be quite different. It is necessary for educators to be realistic about what may happen with technology use and how its introduction, implementation and evaluation can be carefully planned for. With this in mind, we embarked on this project with Roblyer's (2006) guidelines clearly in mind. Each guideline will be explored in connection with connections to our iPod project.

Guideline 1: Good teaching comes first (Roblyer 2006)

Teachers have considerable knowledge about their profession--what constitutes 'good' pedagogy, the nature of learning and ways to engage students in the classroom. …

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