Originally published: August 29, 2011
Last updated: August 29, 2011 - 7:40pm
In 2003 the iPod was a relatively new gadget for listening to music. Billboard ads showed young people dancing, iPods in hand. Few people would have pinpointed this newfangled Walkman as a powerful teaching tool.
Cathy N. Davidson, a professor at Duke University, believes that classrooms aren't keeping up with the kids. She thought, what is the untapped educational potential of the iPod? She and her Duke colleagues worked with Apple to give every entering freshmen an iPod, and then they sat back and watched as students and teachers developed innovate and collaborative ways to incorporate iPods into their work: med students could listen to recordings of heart arrhythmia, music students could upload their compositions and get feedback from other students, environmental studies students interviewed families in a North Carolina community about lead paint in their town, and then shared their interviews online, for other students to download. No one could have predicted all the ways the iPods enhanced learning once they were in the hands of students and teachers -- and that's a central point of Cathy Davidson's new book Now You See It. In it, Davidson argues that though our lives outside of the classroom are changing rapidly, our classrooms remain stuck in an earlier era.