Want to know something cool?

One point of view, taking note of sundry "cool" things that affect-- or could affect-- the education business.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Broward Schools to ban iPods?

OK, the blog is called "Want to know something cool?", ya dig, but here's yet another post of the negative variety. Although in this case WTKSC is probably on board.

Broward County schools are about to harsh the mellow of their iPodding matriculators. Officially set for consideration (and probably approval) of the school board on March 7, the proposal will add iPods (and, ostensibly, other similar devices) to the list of prohibited items for students to have in class. Many schools and districts have such lists, often including mobile phones, radios, CD players, and other similar gadgetry.

The harsh on the mellow, though, is that iPods, along with their less famous cousins in the mp3 space, can also rock content that can be part of a nutritious breakfast. Podcasts and vodcasts of all kinds are available, including lectures on European history and Operating Systems from Berkeley or poli-sci from MIT. That's not to say the little dears are actually jamming to educational content, but they could be. It's more likely they're putting their Black Eyed Peas on, or that they're rocking the beats of Kanye or Gwen. But hey ... what if they're really thumping Spark Notes, or the Engadget podcast? Sure, it's inappropriate when they're in class, but couldn't such listening be part of the course? Couldn't a teacher assign a free podcast as part of required homework?

(Click the link to continue ...)

Broward is a progressive district who has made serious investments in infrastructure and student technology. One-to-one computing is a reality for many there. So what if, in addition to telling kids that it's NOT cool to jam during class, Broward also pointed out some of the more efficacious uses of an iPod (or a lappie)? Point these kids in the direction of quality content-- which, admittedly, can be hard to find-- and let them apply their gadgets to their ever-evolving quest for knowledge.

It's hard to compete with the likes of Tiki Bar TV or Ne-Yo in the valuable and limited space between the headphones, but hey: some kids are auditory learners. Some kids will tweak to content in this medium that they might otherwise never grasp. Of course nobody wants their students blasting earbuds full of Slim Shady during class. A classtime ban on iPods and mp3 players makes a lot of sense. But, let us hope that our friends in Broward County will recognize an opportunity to reach kids in a new, and popular, way, too. That would be very cool.


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