“Ipods As Educational Tools at Memorial University in 2007”


Aaron Goulding

“iPods as Educational Tools at Memorial University in 2007”
Research Paper Assignment

Course: Business 2000 - Business Communications Submitted To: Heather Skanes Submitted By: Aaron Goulding Date Submitted: November 23, 2007

Letter of Transmittal 23 Calgary St St. John’s, Newfoundland A1C 3W1 November 21, 2007 Heather Skanes Faculty of Business Administration Memorial University St. John's, NL A1C 5S7 P.O. Box 4200 CANADA Dear Ms. Skanes: Please accept the accompanying research report entitled "iPods As Educational Tools." This report is the result of primary and secondary research compiled at the QEII Library. The idea for the report topic came from MIT’s “One laptop per child”. The human brain is a sponge, by making information available at our finger tips, people can teach themselves. This is not to say that the classroom environment should be replaced by a podcast, but students can reinforce course material at their convenience should they choose to take advantage. I began the secondary research prior to my research proposal. Initially my focus was somewhat critical of post secondary educators, and perhaps too broad in terms of scope. After receiving feedback on my research proposal, I refined the scope of my paper to iPods specifically. In the final research report I chose to have a less critical attitude and focus more on the benefits of this new technology. My goal is not to chastise the faculty, but to persuade them to make course related content available to students. By showing the tools the ipod has to offer, it is more likely that educators will see how incorporating new technologies like the ipod can solve problems they have identified themselves throughout their careers. If the educators see iPods as a better way of achieving their goals, they will be more willing to invest time and effort into integrating the technology into the classroom. I would like to thank my managers and co-workers over at the QEII computer support desk for their support and help in getting students to fill out surveys. Sincerely, Aaron Goulding

Executive Summary

This paper aims to uncover possible barriers for the adoption of new multimedia technologies, specifically the iPod, by post secondary institutions for teaching purposes.
Key findings: Of the 50 students surveyed • 54% owned an iPod. • 100% had high speed internet • 40% said they would use supplementary learning tools like podcasts if they were available.

MIT has a project called the “One Laptop Per Child” whose goal is to develop extremely cheap, portable basic computers for children in third world countries. Their philosophy is that if children have a computer full of knowledge, they can teach themselves. This innate desire to learn is not unique to children in the third world. People, not just children, have brains desiring to be fed with information. Perhaps with today’s technology, people can let their brains snack at their convenience and not just eat at specific meal times in the classroom. The iPod is the most popular mp3 player available, which makes it a good focal point for exploring how portable multimedia devices can be used in an academic setting. Today’s iPods not only play audio, but video as well. They can display text, store local wikis, display virtual flash cards, and automatically download podcasts when connected to a computer. If students already own devices with so much potential, why not take advantage of the technology? By using a combination of secondary and primary research, this paper demonstrates the benefits, and barriers of ipods as educational tools. The intended audience is post-secondary and administration, but students and parents may find the paper of great interest as well.

Table of Contents 1. Executive Summary 2. Introduction 2.1 Purpose 2.2 Scope 2.3 History of the iPod 2.4 Ipods Applications

3. Methodology 3.1 Secondary 3.2 Primary

4. Research Findings 4.1 Survey Results

5. Conclusions 5.1 Analysis Of Data

6. Recommendations 7. References 8. Bibliography 9. Appendices Appendix A - iPod Content as an OER Resource Appendix B - Barriers to Using iPods as Education Tools Appendix C - Percentage Graphs of Questionnaire Results Appendix D - Revised Questionnaire (For Students)


Introduction Technology has been making hardware smaller and smaller in the recent years. Smaller physical hardware means increased portability. Portability allows for freedom. Freedom allows people to do things where and when they want. In todays world, people can watch a movie while they wait in traffic. Rather than needing a desk and books to study, they can review yesterday’s lecture notes as they wait for the bus. It seems like everyone has a video ipod these days. According to Ipodhacks.com, Solutions Research Group released a study showing that “Ownership of digital music players has more than tripled, from 8% in 2005 to 27% in 2006.” (unknown, 2006). People who have the financial means, and who take the initiative, can maximize effective use of their time.

Of the 50 who filled out the questionnaire, over half had an iPod.



Owned an iPod Did not own an iPod

1.1 Purpose This paper aims to uncover possible barriers for the adoption of new multimedia technologies by post secondary institutions for teaching purposes. The specific focus will be on the iPods as teaching aids at Memorial University. The primary audience for this paper is the Memorial University faculty and administration. The secondary audience would be educators in other universities


and high schools. The idea of using technology to provide content outside of the classroom is not a new one. “Blended learning”, (Zenger & Uehlein, 2001) is the idea of having learning in different forms and/or settings. Traditionally blended learning has been a mix of both offline (classroom instruction), and online (web based instruction and interactive exercises). There is no reason why blended learning could not include portable media devices like the iPod. “Learning to use computers in the classroom, which means creating new practice with technology that supports a teacher’s pedagogical goals and students’ needs, simply requires so much work that only a teacher who already sees its value will carry it out.” (Coppola, 2004) 1.2 Scope With so many high capacity portable multimedia devices available in today’s market, many with similar features, why is the focus solely on the iPod? One is because the scope of this paper is not broad enough to cover all the other brands and models. The second, and more important reason, is that the iPod is by the most popular device by a large margin. According to an article published by http://www.theregister.co.uk in 2004, “Apple's iPod took 82 per cent of the US retail hard drive-based digital music player market in August, adding 18 percentage points to its share during the preceding 12 months alone. Its share of the overall digital music player market is fractionally under 42 per cent.” (Smith, 2004).


1.3 History of the iPod iPod is a brand of portable media player designed and marketed by Apple and launched in October 2001. Initially the iPod played only compressed audio files (known as MP3’s), but has quickly evolved to play video and access the internet (wifi is only available with certain model iPods). All current Apple mp3 players come with a display which allows them to double as a portable digital text readers. With their vast and ever increasing storage capacities, and click wheel navigation, one could store more text based information on a single device then a person could ever read in their life time.

1.4 Ipod information tools Ipods gave birth to podcasts. A podcast is a digital media file, or a related collection of such files, which is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers. Podcasts give anyone with a computer and an internet connection the ability to produce and distribute audio/video content of their choosing to a global audience. MIT offers free distance courses (approximately 1600 of them), some of which include audio or video podcasts. A list of their available podcasts can be seen at “http:// web.mit.edu/ist/podcasts/” A specific example of podcasting software would be Itunes. Besides podcasts, local wikis are an invaluable tool for information sorting and retrieval. A wiki is a series of linked html pages. There also already exists open source projects to further knowledge sharing on the iPod. “Encyclopodia – the encyclopedia on your iPod”. Is a project that copies a portable version of the encyclopedia on to an iPod so that it can be accessed while it is not attached to a computer. It is available in three different languages at “http://


encyclopodia.sourceforge.net/en/index.html”. A specific example of local wiki software would be Voodoo Pad. There are also virtual Flash cards. Using the same mark-up language technology as wiki software, virtual flash cards software is available for ipods. The idea is the same as traditional paper flash cards. The term goes on one side, and the definition goes on the backside. On the iPod, the term is a link to the definition on the back. Users navigate through the terms, and between the terms and their definitions via the click wheel. A specific example of virtual flash card software would be iFlash.


Methodology 2.1 Secondary methodology: There are several books in the education field that explore teaching techniques and tools with regards to technology. These books were all published in the 1990’s and focus on the use of computers in the classroom and webpages on the internet. Publications in regards to new technologies like iPods are difficult to obtain as the technology is so new that there are not many books on the topic, and libraries haven’t yet bought them because of limited funding. The internet would appear to be the most abundant source of information for this topic as it is so vast and frequently changing. There was a book “Handheld computers in schools and media centers” by Ann Bell on order at the time of this paper’s submission which looked to be an ideal secondary source discussing this very topic itself.

2.2 Primary methodology: Data was gathered using a questionnaire (see appendix E) which was handed out to fifty university students over the course of a week in the QEII library at Memorial University. The students who filled out the questionnaire were a mixture of students who were waiting for technical support at the library’s commons help desk and students who were using computers in the library commons. Students were given no instructions except for those printed on the survey itself in an attempt to keep responses unbiased. Upon completion of the survey it became apparent that the questionnaire instructions, and some specific questions, could have used further clarification. In any future survey, the instructions would be amended to include; “Please pick the best answer from the answer options available under the question.” There were two incidences where students supplied an answer which didn’t conform to the options available.


The second question of the survey was confusing for respondents. Both the first and second questions were about ipod ownership. It was unclear whether their response in the first question affected their answer in the second question. In retrospect it should have been made clear that they could skip that question if they already owned an ipod. Or a third checkbox “Not Applicable (I already own an ipod)” would have could have been used. There may be some corruption in the accuracy of the results for that specific question because of the design of the question. The second question was posed to determine how many of the respondents would have an iPod within two years. If they answered “Yes to question 1, then it was assumed that they automatically answered “Yes” to question 2. Only those people who and answered both “No” to question 1 and question 2 were assumed to actually not have an iPod in two years from now. In hindsight the last two questions should have better explained. The question is somewhat confusing. A judgement of difficulty level needs a basis for comparison. The student must decide if the comparison is between themselves and other students, or that particular task and other tasks. This uncertainty about the actual question they answer may introduce an error in the accuracy of the results. As better phrasing would have been;” Do you find it easy or difficult to actively listen to the lecture while you’re writing down notes from the blackboard in class? For the purpose of this report will be defined as: being able to copy down what’s written on the board exactly while completely following and understanding what the lecturer is saying. A scale would have more ideally suited for a question where the answer was quantitative.


Research Findings - based on survey of 50 Memorial students (Appendix E)

Question # Q1
1. Do you own an ipod?

Yes 27 Q2

No 23

Do you plan on purchasing an ipod within the next 2 years?

27 Q3


Do you own a mobile phone?

43 Q4
Do you own a computer?


Yes, laptop 34 Q5

Yes, desktop Neither 19 2

Do you have high speed access to the internet at home?

Yes 50 Q6

No 0

Have you ever watched videos on “Youtube”?

Never 1 Q7

Rarely 19

Often 14

4 times a week or more 16

Have you ever watched or listened to a podcast?

Yes 21 Q8

No 14

I don’t know 15

Would you use supplementary learning tools (ie. educational podcasts, electronic flash cards, and electronic notes, etc...) that could be viewed on an ipod if they were available?

Highly 20

Somewhat 19

Unlikely 11



Do you ever use flash cards (index cards) for definition memorization?

Yes 21 Q10

No 20

No, too much trouble 9

Do you take notes in class by hand or do you type them by using a word processing program on a laptop?

Handwritten 43 Q11

Typed 7

Do you find it easy or difficult to actively listen to the lecture while you’re writing down notes from the blackboard in class?

Easy 20 Q12

Difficult 30

Do you find it easy or difficult to talk on the phone and watch tv at the same time?

Easy 18

Difficult 32


Conclusions The results of the survey gives evidence that there is demand for non traditional learning technologies at Memorial University. Half of surveyed students had an ipod, and 86% had a mobile phone. 100% had surveyed students had high speed internet at home. The ownership of mobile phones is significant, because increasingly mobile phones are becoming an all-in-one devices. This is possible because large corporations and business in general have recognized the potential of a wireless internet. They are already designing content for access specifically from mobile phones. ie. Google, Facebook, etc... have implemented technology so that webpage are resized for the smaller resolution of a mobile phone display. iPods need not be the sole device that educators and students use for these supplemental purposes. The mediums in which the content is delivered (mp3, mov, html, txt) are universal formats. Most students are already watching videos online (ie. Youtube) or checking movies listings via their mobile phones. Questions 6 & 7 results shows that only one student out of fifty hadn’t ever watched video online. This low number shows that students are ea9rly embracers of new technologies, and already consuming content via the internet. Introducing course content through new mediums would appeal to this demographic. Most people have a limited ability to multi-task. Most can only effective focus on one thing at a time. That is why we have laws against driving and talking on mobile phones here in Newfoundland. Students are expected to copy down notes, and then also comprehend and retain what a lecturer is saying. The answers to questions 11 and 12 show that many students have trouble doing that. With the help of tools that are available on the iPod, students who have trouble focusing on two things at once (which is most students), can maximize their potential to do well in the courses by replaying lectures, reinforcing terms and definitions, self testing, etc... Reinforcing moves the knowledge from short term


memory to long term memory. Ideally less time would have to be spent studying prior to tests because they’ve been reinforcing it all along. What about the students who do not have ipods? Does this leave them at a disadvantage? Only slightly. The same content could be posted on webpages for viewing on computers. Of the students surveyed, only 4% said they didn’t have a computer, but yet of all them said they had access to high speed internet. This result implies that they may not have had their own computer, but shared one with roomates and/or family. Students without ipods wouldn’t have the convenience of learning wherever they go, but they wouldn’t be at an unfair disadvantage. There are however other barriers to the adoption of iPods as teaching tools which is discussed in appendix B. Percentage of Students Who Own a Computer Own a laptop No Computer Own a desktop

4% 35% 62%


Recommendations Not everyone will use their iPods to study, but maybe some will. Note everyone is going to study the class notes, or read the book, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be available. Many would argue that other more well known technologies also aren’t being used at all, or to their full potential. In a society that is entirely dependent on technology to survive presently, utilizing a gadget like the iPod creates excitement and interest. There is a need for more funding for education technology. Technology has the potential for vastly expanding enrollment without increasing overhead related to physical needs such as real estate, construction, heat, etc... Distance education maximizes profits by lowering overhead and expanding distribution. “A fifth argument is that many institutions face growing competition as a consequence of the increasing globalization of higher education and a rising supply of free educational resources on the internet. In this situation there is a need to look for new cost recovery models, new ways of obtaining revenue, such as offering content for free, both as an advertisement for the institution, and as a way of lowering the threshold for new students, who maybe be more likely to enrol - and therefore pay for tutoring and accreditation...” (OECD, 2007) Many people overseas cannot afford traditional education. Educators need to be aware of the potential of the iPod and other high capacity portable multi-media devices as educational tools so they start engaging tomorrow’s generations today. “In 2000, corporations spent approximately 1.2 billion on e-learning, and this amount is expected to increase as much as $23 billion by 2005.” (Zenger and Uehlein, 2001). Memorial has an opportunity to expand its revenue stream by selling distance education models and proven methods of content design & delivery to corporations and businesses. While it true that even though iPods are becoming more and more common, it can still be argued that not everyone has one. Mobile phones on the other hand seem so intertwined into our daily lives. As mobile phones continue to


evolve, into an all in one device, most students will have a device that can store and display text, graphics, play video and audio. “Google CEO Eric Schmidt notes there are 3 billion mobile users. We hope thousands of different phones will be powered by Android. This will make possible all sorts of applications that have never been made available on a mobile device.” (Schonfeld, 2007). The world is changing rapidly and education needs to change with it. If even a tiny fraction of those 3 billion users download a physics or math application, who knows how many Einsteins of tomorrow could be immersed in science for the betterment of humanity? Do farmers in the industrialized world still till their fields with a horse? It’s not as efficient as using a tractor. This is analogous to having a device like an iPod in the age of the internet, and not taking advantage of it to supplement academic learning. There is the possibility of iPod educational content as an Open Educational Resource (as shown in Appendix A). It offers some truly exciting possibilities.


REFERENCE LIST Coppola, E. (2004) Powering Up - Learning To Teach With Technology New York, Teachers College Press Goulding, A. (2007) Ipod Information Project Survey OECD, editor Lecercle, D. (2007) Giving Knowledge for Free. France. OECD Publishing. Schonfeld, E. (2007) Breaking: Google Announces Android and Open Handset Alliance http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/breaking-google-announces-androidand-open-handset-alliance/ Smith, T. (Oct 12, 2004). Apple iPod grabs 82% US retail market share. Retrieved October 21, 2007 from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/12/ ipod_us_share/ Unknown. (2006-07-14). Enlightening iPod Statistics For 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2007, from http://www.ipodhacks.com/article.php? sid=1917 Zenger, J., & Uehlein, C. (2001). Why Blended will Win. Training & Development American Society for Training & Development, Inc


Bibliography Bamler, R. (2006). Encyclopodia – the encyclopedia on your iPod. Retrieved September 25, 2007, from http://encyclopodia.sourceforge.net/en/ index.html Berka, J. (September 05, 2007). iPod touch may do more than Apple expects. Retrieved September 25, 2007 from http://arstechnica.com/journals/ apple.ars/2007/09/05/ipod-touch-may-do-more-than-apple-expects Catherall, P. (2005). Delivering E-learning Information Services in Higher Education. Oxford: Chandos Publishing Engvig, M. (2006) Online Learning - All You Need to Know to Facilitate and Administer Online Courses. New Jersey, Hampton Press Inc. Epper, R. & Bates, T. (2001) Teaching faculty how to use technology: best practices from leading institutions. Westport, CT. Oryx Press. Newby, T., Stepich, A., Lehman, J., & Russell, J. (2006) Educational Technology for Teaching and Learning. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education Inc. Negroponte, N. (Unknown). Vision: Children In The Developing World Are Inadequately Educated. Retrieved September 25, 2007, from http:// laptop.org/vision/index.shtml Nilson B. & Weaver B. (2005) Enhancing Learning with Laptops in the Classroom San Francisco, Wiley Periodicals Inc.


Appendix A
“iPod Content as an OER Resource”


iPod Content as an OER Resource Just like in the software world, open source appears to be the wave of the future for education. Known as Open Education Resources (O.E.R.), these are materials, content, and tools offered openly and freely for use by anyone usually under free or limited license for re-mixing, improvement, or re-distribution. By creating content for the iPod, and licensing it under as a OER, Memorial would stand to benefit in a number of ways, especially in this early years of the OER movement. ”A fourth argument for institutions to be engaged in OER projects is that it is good for public relations and it can function as a showcase to attract new students. Institution such as MIT have received a lot of positive attention for their decision to make their resources available for free.” (OECD, 2007). “Specific gains from participating in OER activities include support for digitizing the teaching materials and clearing copyrights to third-party materials, opportunities to restructure and systematize lectures and get feedback, and finally increased possibilities for future publications.” (OECD, 2007).


Appendix B
“Barriers to Using iPods as Education Tools”


Barriers to Using iPods as Education Tools If technology is able to do so much to further education, why aren’t more people pushing for its adoption within the academic community? “Learning to use computers in the classroom, which means creating new practice with technology that supports a teacher’s pedagogical goals and students’ needs, simply requires so much work that only a teacher who already sees it value will carry it out.”. iPods are heavily content dependent, and are thus intertwined with the internet for content delivery. Of the 50 Memorial university students surveyed, 100% of them had high speed internet access at home, so for the purpose of this paper it will be assumed that content delivery is not an issue for the end user’s point of view. “Everett Rogers (1995) studied how and why people adopt new innovations, and out of this coined the law of relative advantage. He argued that people adopt innovations depending on “the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the idea it supersedes.” (Coppola, 2004). People naturally have a resistance to adopting new ways of doing things. Average age of university professors is of that of a person who would not have the benefit of growing up in the “information age”. They use computers for entering in marks, and emailing. That generation would generally have more difficulty in seeing the relative advantage of having content on a portable device because it is not something that they themselves would have ever used. They would have grown up learning via paper, not computers. There is also the costs involved in the transferring information from one medium to another (man hours, buying video cameras, microphones). While this cost is not insignificant, it should be pointed out that after an initial one time investment of time/money a resource like that can be used over and over again with relatively no cost. The digitized content could be distributed to students of


different classes, similar courses, other post-secondary schools, secondary school, etc...


Appendix C
“Percentage Graphs of Questionnaire Results”


1. Do you own an ipod?





2. Do you plan on purchasing an ipod within the next 2 years?





3. Do you own a mobile phone?








11. Do you take notes in class by hand or do you type them by using a word processing program on a laptop?





12. Do you find it easy or difficult to actively listen to the lecture while you!re writing down notes from the blackboard in class?



40% 60%

13. Do you find it easy or difficult to talk on the phone and watch tv at the same time? "



36% 64%


Appendix E
“Revised Questionnaire (For Students)”


Revised Questionnaire A survey to determine the interest level of Memorial
students in educational podcasts, electronic flash cards, and electronic notes.
1. Do you own an ipod? ❏ Yes ❏ No

2. Do you plan on purchasing an ipod within the next 2 years? ❏ Yes ❏ No

3. Do you own a mobile phone? ❏ Yes ❏ No

4. Do you own a computer? ❏ Yes, a laptop ❏ Yes, a desktop ❏ No

5. Do you have high speed access to the internet at home? ❏ Yes ❏ No

6. Have you ever watched videos on “Youtube”? ❏ Never ❏ Rarely ❏ Often ❏ 4 times a week or more

8. Have you ever watched or listened to a podcast? ❏ Yes ❏ No ❏ I don’t know what a podcast is

9. Would you use supplementary learning tools (ie. educational podcasts, electronic flash cards, and electronic notes, etc...) that could be viewed on an ipod if they were available? ❏ Highly Likely ❏ Somewhat Likely ❏ Unlikely

10. Do you ever use flash cards (index cards) for definition memorization? ❏ Yes ❏ No ❏ No, because it’s too much trouble to write them all out

11. Do you take notes in class by hand or do you type them by using a word processing program on a laptop? ❏ Hand Written ❏ Typed

12. Do you find it easy or difficult to actively listen to the lecture while you’re writing down notes from the blackboard in class? ❏ Easy ❏ Difficult

13. Do you find it easy or difficult to talk on the phone and watch tv at the same time? ❏ Easy ❏ Difficult THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME!

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