Summary: As part of a university initiative to encourage creative uses of technology in education and campus life, Duke distributed 20GB Apple iPod devices, each equipped with Belkin Voice Recorders, to over 1600 entering first-year students in August 2004.
The Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) coordinated an evaluation of the academic use of iPods, drawing on course-level feedback; student and faculty focus groups; a broad survey of first-year students and faculty; and discussions and feedback among staff, administrators, and campus stakeholder groups. This evaluation focused on the feasibility and effectiveness of the iPod as a tool for faculty and student academic use. The primary purpose of this evaluation was to assist project stakeholders and Duke decision-makers in determining what iPod uses were most fruitful and to help shape future Duke academic technology initiatives. This report summarizes the main findings of this collaborative assessment effort.
At least 15 fall courses with a total enrollment of 628 unique students and an estimated 33 spring courses with a total enrollment of over 600 students incorporated iPod use (for brief descriptions of select courses and links to available in-depth course profiles, see Academic iPod Projects, page 14). As expected, foreign language and music courses integrated the device, but its use also extended to other social science and humanities courses. In addition, all first-year engineering students used the iPod in their required Computational Methods course. Audio-intensive courses reported that the iPod increased the frequency and depth of student interactions with audio course content through portable and flexible access offered by the iPod. Initial planning for academic use focused on audio playback; however, digital recording capabilities ultimately generated the highest level of student and faculty interest. Recording was the most widely used feature for academic purposes, with 60% of first-year students reporting using the iPod’s recording ability for academic purposes. This high level of interest in digital recording was also reflected in the proposals CIT received and supported. The iPod’s music database and hard drive storage capabilities were also widely used by first-year students in academic contexts, although this use was less extensive than recording (28% vs. 50% of first year students).
Academic uses of iPod
The academic uses of iPod dev ices by faculty at Duke fell into five major categories.
• Course content dissemination tool – portable access to course content such as lectures, songs, historical speeches, and foreign language content distributed via the Duke iPod content server, iTunes Music Store, Blackboard course management tool, and podcasts
• Classroom recording tool – capturing lectures, class discussions, and verbal feedback.
• Field recording tool – capturing field notes, interviews, environmental sounds and audio data.
• Study support tool – repeated listening and repetition of commercial and original audio content, such as music, audiobooks, rehearsals and vocabulary lists
• File storage and transfer – simple transfer or backup mechanism, particularly for large multimedia files.
Duke University iPod First Year Experience Final Evaluation Report, June 2005. http://cit.duke.edu/pdf/ipod_initiative_04_05.pdf