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News   - 02/12/2008

iPod not so odd in this classroom

At first glance, there's nothing radical about Jennifer Miller's fourth-grade classroom in the Indian Mills Elementary School.

It's filled with little desks in groups of four, a banner of cursive letters, posters about pronouns and student renderings of glowing lava bursting from volcanoes.

There's a television, which isn't out of the ordinary, but there's also a 30-gigabyte iPod video sitting beneath it. It's not something Miller confiscated from one of her students. A local nonprofit educational organization bought it for her to use in the classroom. And, if that's not radical, it's certainly cutting-edge.

"I'm going to show you a video on the iPod of something we have talked about before electricity and magnetism," Miller told her class on a recent Friday morning.

Students gathering around a television to watch video podcasts or listen to audio books is becoming a familiar scene in Shamong after a nonprofit spent more than $10,000 to secure 23 iPods for the 85 teachers there. District Superintendent Thomas Christensen first approached the Shamong Foundation for Educational Excellence with the idea last year after watching iPod educational demonstrations at a conference in California.

"It was really intriguing," said Christensen.

At first, the Shamong Foundation was a little hesitant to drop so much money on what was initially just the world's most popular digital music player.

"I would say I had to convince them of the educational value," said Christensen.

The Moorestown Friends school was a little more radical when it implemented iPods into the classroom in 2005 when music was still the gizmo's preeminent trait. The school currently uses about 45 of them in different subjects, said Julie-Ann Morris, the school's academic technology coordinator.

"Our specialty is iPods in foreign language. We keep a digital portfolio of all the students' work so we can hear the difference in students' language skills," Morris said.

Morris says iPods work easily in the classroom because the students are comfortable with them.

"This has become such a permanent part of people's lives," she said. "They're not afraid to use them."

Moorestown Friends hosted Apple's iPods in Education forum in February 2006.

The devices have also been used in schools in Monroe as well as in Union, Perth Amboy, New Brunswick and Great Neck, N.Y.

Source: Asbury Park Press    
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