iPods in classroom inspiring young minds

MEGAN MILLER
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2012
Emma Buckingham, left, Anika Waller and Elsa Weary show off the iPods students use as part of classroom learning at Timaru South School.
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

TECHIE TEACHING: Emma Buckingham, left, Anika Waller and Elsa Weary show off the iPods students use as part of classroom learning at Timaru South School.

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Timaru South School students sit in class each day with a world's worth of knowledge in the palms of their hands.

The school launched a programme at the beginning of the year to distribute iPod Touch technology to students for classroom use. The iPods are equipped with still cameras, video and audio recording and internet capability, and they run applications that dovetail with several areas of the curriculum, including science, maths and reading.

"It's touch technology and that's the technology of now," principal Mike Hogan said. "It's interactive and gives immediate feedback. It's a medium kids respond to hugely."

The initiative began in August when the school supplied iPods to its teachers with instructions to take them home and test them out for classroom use, Mr Hogan said. But now it's the students themselves who are driving the programme – and in some cases, doing the teaching.

A group of nine student "techies" take home iPods after school and on weekends to test out new apps. They give feedback to teachers about which apps they liked. They also teach a few students in each classroom how to use new apps, and those students, in turn, teach the rest of the class.

There are hundreds of thousands of educational applications available, Mr Hogan said.

It's not inexpensive technology – the school pays about $250 for each iPod. But it's a far cheaper way to put computers in the hands of each student than purchasing $1600 Apple laptops, he said.

So far the school has 40 iPods, with plans to fund the purchase of 32 more by the end of the term. Mr Hogan said he was also encouraging parents to buy iPods for their children as gifts – about 20 students already supply their own.

When they debuted the iPods, he said, students would crowd around on the playground to try out a maths or reading app.

"If I walked around with a piece of paper and a pen and said, `Who would like to do some times tables?' – yeah, right," he said. "But this is just a medium that grabs them."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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