Tune in to an iPod lecture
Wintec hospitality students are being asked to bring their iPods and iPhones into the classroom to trial what may be a unique teaching method developed by lecturer Patrick Ward.
Mr Ward, a food and beverages tutor, said since a quarter of his students had a personal computer and only half of those had internet access he began looking, about six months ago, for an alternative learning platform. Nearly all had an iPod so he got in touch with New York-based software writer Zachary Bedell, via the iTunes website, and asked him to develop an e-book reader capable of handling multimedia files. He then set about writing and filming 16 interactive e-books which could be installed on iPods and iPhones every week of the short course a world first, according to Mr Ward.
Mark Blackwell, the manager of the Apple reseller Techniq in Hamilton, said while iPods and iPhones were capable of viewing standard e-books he did not know of anywhere else in the world where they were being used to deliver tailormade teaching material. "Wintec is pretty up there for that sort of course distribution," Mr Blackwell said.
The e-books, made available to students at the end of each lesson, will include text and video explaining the basics of hospitality. One book might cover, for example, how to set a table. During the next lesson the students will be asked to put into practice what they have learned.
"We take it for granted that students are computer literate but it's just not true," Mr Ward said. "They have all got iPods."
The irony, Mr Ward said, was that he was not particularly technically literate.
"The technology around this is incredibly new and I know absolutely what I need to know and nothing more."
Other lecturers in the department have filmed their own demonstration with music provided by media arts students who are credited.
The students will trial the first of the e-books in two weeks with other Wintec departments business studies, carpentry, plumbing and the school of English among those looking at adapting the technology for their courses.
Cooking lecturer Mike Samphier was tentative about the technology but "once we tested it we wanted to go with it".
Students without an iPod or iPhone can download the e-book via the internet and run it as a webpage on a computer.