When iPod goes collegiate
(Page 2 of 2)
Some professors insist that they have no problem with use of the iPod for personal recreation - as long as at least part of the time it helps connect kids to course work.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"The iPods used for my class - well, it's a 20-gig hard drive for goodness sake," Rogerson concedes. "It's holding 90 percent music and 10 percent course content, no question, but I'm so grateful for that 10 percent."
In his class, students use their iPods to record lectures and interviews for their assignments.
Rogerson calls the gadgets "glorified tape recorders," but the advantages are clear: Audio files can be assigned titles and organized into folders; students can skip to the exact instant of an interview from which they want to quote; and in a matter of seconds interviews can be uploaded to a personal computer for future storage.
Apple, the maker of the iPod, lists the ways it sees its invention being used by schools.
"Institutions such as Duke, Georgia College & State University, and others are using the iPod as a portable learning tool for listening to recorded lectures, foreign language study, research notes, storing files and photos, and listening to audio books and podcasts," says Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPod product marketing.
"The iPod has been a very useful and effective way for interviews to be recorded for our journalism class," says Carla Ranno, a sophomore sociology/political science major from Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. (She swears she uses it for music only when she goes to the gym.)
But all this collecting and dispersing of audio files raises two red flags: First, how many words and actions will be captured unwittingly and used for unknown purposes, and second, when and where is copyright being infringed when students and faculty make their own recordings?
Rogerson says that as far as his lectures are concerned, his students are free to record anything that comes out of his mouth and use it for their own purposes, so long as they don't profit from it.
But not all professors or institutions are so free with their spoken intellectual property.
"Do they have permission from the person who wrote the lectures to share it?" asks Alan Albright, managing principal and specialist in intellectual property litigation at the law firm of Fish & Richardson in Austin, Texas. "That would be the copyright concern. The school wouldn't be liable anymore than Kmart is liable for selling me the iPod; giving me the storage capability isn't the bad thing. But I can't imagine, having been a student myself, that it won't be widely abused."
This concern exists at any school where students have iPods, whether they were gifts or not. Professors should be aware, Mr. Albright says, of how easy it is today for students to record lectures or any downloadable class materials and broadcast them over the Internet.
But even as such discussions persist, it seems clear that iPods are in classrooms to stay.
Duke may have been the first university to hand them out to its students, but it certainly won't be the last. In addition to Drexel's program, iPods have already spawned enthusiastic followings at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, which will use the players for two of its courses, and at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which is handing out iPods to students who fill out financial aid and registration forms on time.
Providing students with iPods is not an inexpensive venture. The market value of a 20-gig iPod is $300 (although schools generally get discounts by buying in bulk).
But officials at Duke insist that their decision to limit iPod distribution was based not on finances but on curricular concerns. The school remains committed to finding creative uses for the gadget in the classroom.
"The direct effect of iPods is they learn better in the classroom," says Peter Lange, Duke's provost.
But the value of the gadgets goes beyond the classroom, he insists. "Obviously if you learn that there are creative ways to do things that you hadn't thought of before, and ... that new technologies may provide opportunities you hadn't thought of, that's part of learning, too."