Wednesday, August 01, 2007

If You're Out of Robotussin Surely an Ipod Will Cure It

The folks in Kansas, fresh from slaying then resurrecting Mr. Darwin, have another wonderful idea: record a teacher's lectures and then convert them to podcasts fer the younguns:

Students who don't have iPods can check one out. The district bought 20 new ones—six at the high school and one at each middle and elementary school.

School officials said they initially are gearing the project around students who struggle with their class work and are at risk of dropping out.

"For now, we're really wanting to target supplementing students' curriculum and helping them understand concepts," said David T. Patterson, assistant principal at Hutchinson High.

Although the elementary and middle schools will be included, district technology director Larry Frederick said high school students will be the main focus "because of the sheer number and age of students."

Teachers will start recording their lectures when the school year starts. The podcasts—digital media files that can be either audio or video—will cover reading and math material to correspond with No Child Left Behind education standards.

The podcasts will be added to computers, televisions and the district's new 80-gigabyte iPods. In all, the equipment for the podcasts, including six computers, cost more than $25,000.


Patterson said research also shows that children learn better when information is presented to them in new ways.

"We're really excited about it," he said. "We think it's really going to make a difference for the students."

Uh, no, Mr. Patterson, the material is presented in the same goddamn way it was in class -- teacher talks, maybe the kids talk, and either Billy gets it or not. Mere repetition of a lecture for at-risk kids is unlikely to find much positive mental traction, even if it's re-broadcast over a cool gadget. And podcasting math lessons?? Hmmm. I can just see the kid who has difficulty with abstract material trying to visualize the concepts and solving an equation while listening to Ms. Stevens drone on.

Good news for Apple, bad news for kids.

Billy needs some one on one and has needed that since first grade. But we'll throw an Ipod at him, note the smile, and we'll all feel better.