Abilene Christian University gave each incoming freshman an iPod Touch or an iPhone in the Fall Semester of 2008. The ConnectED Summit was to detail their implementation and to bring together educators who wanted to discuss mobile technology. There were 412 attendees from 144 organizations, representing 64 colleges and universities, 29 K-12 school districts. More than half the states were represented and 7 counties other than the US. Overall 1,773,711 students were represented.
The first keynote speaker was Dr. Stephen Molyneux from the UK. ACU provided coverage of this and other speakers at http://connectedcoverage.blogspot.com/ . I thought it was particularly interesting to me that Dr. Molyneux said basically the same thing our students said about teachers fearing the technology, fearing to look like they did not know, and fearing change (see previous post).
The second keynote speaker was Dr. Eric Mazur, professor at Harvard. He made the point that his physics students began to truly understand physics when he started using mobile technology in the lecture hall for immediate responses. Then if between 50% and 70% of the students got an answer right, he would have the students do what he called peer discussion. He would instruct the students to find someone who had a different answer than theirs and discuss the question and answer. What he found was that someone who had just recently learned a physics concept could sometimes explain it better than a physics professor to whom these physics concepts had become second nature. Anyway, the iPod Touch is an excellent instant response mechanism.
These are some interesting things learned:
- A school district decided to invert their attitude on homework. They sent teacher lectures or presentations home via podcasts. And then the teachers spent class time practicing or discussing what was in the podcast. Families who had no access to the podcasts at home received the podcast burned onto a DVD.
- One school district bought iPods for each student in elementary grades so that students would have access to a vast amount of material created by the teachers in podcast format.
Over the 30 hours of the summit, these were the things that I could figure out to do on the iPod Touch:
- Access the Internet and read text and/or follow the links
- Find current location
- Use developed apps that did things like show me a map of the campus. The ACU staff program apps that would actual take the GPS locator function and plot a path from current location to a desired location with a virtual view of what would be seen along the way.
- Keep a calendar
- Check weather for current location and any other location desired.
- Take notes or access Google Docs and write, calculate, present etc. (warning-it is challenging to edit a spread sheet in Google Docs from an iTouch but it can be done)
- Check e-mail
- Access the App Store and download App (an account needs to be set up and at this point I cannot figure out how to set the Apps Store account up without entering a credit card. However, using a gift card would be safer.)
- Listen to a book or podcast
- Watch a vidcast or movie
The final speaker was an executive from Apple. He shared some inspiring thoughts but also reminded us that the E-Trade Baby will be in our elementary schools in 3 years. He then went on to relate a fact stranger than the E-Trade Baby fiction. His son is 2 and has had an iTouch for over 4 months. He was given the iTouch so that he would stop bothering his parents’ iPhone. The less than 2 year old son can manipulate an iTouch.
In our district we intended to implement iTouch’s in the Library so they will not be assigned to individuals. We anticipate new challenges. Any tips or tricks will be greatly appreciated.