Inspiring Technology Use through Research: iPods(TM) in the Agriculture Classroom

Article excerpt

Albert Einstein once said "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" (Brainy Quote, n.d.). Research is important to everyone. It is the reason why products that we use are created, why items we enjoy remain available or disappear for good, and why other items are continually changing, mostly for the better. Most everything we do in life is researched one way or another, from the way we shop to the way we search the Internet to what our tastes are in music and media. Although sometimes perceived as daunting to read by some, it is true that research is important because it does, in fact, help us understand what to do next.

I remember the first research article I read as a graduate student, saying out loud, to no one in particular, "Who thinks like this? What do I care if 51% of all people participating in a survey strongly agreed with statement "A"? I just want to know what to do with the information." What I quickly learned through my graduate program is that prior knowledge summaries, new data, conclusions and recommendations that result from research is often useful, eye-opening and practical. More importantly, for the agricultural science teacher, it can enhance a classroom or lesson plan when the information from the research is utilized to the advantage of teachers and their students.

The data collection and research coordination process had already begun when I was exposed to a research project about Texas teacher perspectives on and about use of iPods(TM). The inspiration for my interest was based upon a personal purchase of an iPod(TM) that I had made just prior to enrolling in the course and a faculty member with whom I was working.

I was teaching high school agriculture at the time so I talked with my students about iTunes(TM) and used my iPod(TM) to enhance lessons with podcasts to add that "something extra" to my classroom. My personal experiences with this amazing device helped enhance my ability to relate to the information being collected from the teachers in the study and, in turn, I found extensive educational value in the results.

What surfaced from the data collection was two separate research papers, one that examined me use of iPods(TM) by teachers in Texas (Murphrey, Miller, & Roberts, 2009) and one that examined the perceptions of Texas agricultural science teachers regarding the use of iPods(TM) for classroom and co-curricular activities (Murphrey, Miller, & Roberts, 2009). Although these papers were published three years ago and did only include agricultural science teachers in Texas, the general findings of both studies offer powerful arguments and inspirations for iPod(TM) use in agricultural education at all levels. The beauty of technology is that it continues to build on what has already been developed and, like a fine wine, improves with age and time. The suggestions listed here not only apply to iPods(TM), but now are translational to iPads(TM), tablets and iPhones(TM).

iPod(TM) Inspiration #1

Keep calm and iPod on: According to the data collected, agricultural science teachers were interested in learning more about iPods(TM) and were familiar with student use of iPods(TM). This information alone is pivotal in understanding that iPods(TM) can be used in viable ways in the agricultural science classroom. For those who are just starting out using iPod(TM) technology, ask students to download video podcasts to their iPods(TM) and have them watch them in small groups or as homework. For the iPod(TM)-owning teacher, download videos or talk-show style podcasts and play them in class using external speakers and/or a LCD projector. Teachers who may be unfamiliar with iTunes(TM) will be pleasantly surprised at the appropriateness of the free media available and how easy it is to enhance a lesson by selecting from millions of video clips and podcasts. iPods(TM) can also be used to download and convert YouTube(TM) and omer website videos, using software like RealPlayer"', eliminating the constant need for an Internet connection and therefore making the use of video clips or other media more convenient. …

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