Technology has made homework a completely different experience lately. That is because instead of taking home books, students at one rural New Mexico school are taking home MP3 player, Zunes to be exact.
Teachers at the school were given a $400 bonus for coming up with lessons that could be podcasted or watched in video, and taken home to review by students. Microsoft supplied 100 students with Zunes for free in exchange for data from the school that indicated whether or not the student’s test scores have increased through use of the Zunes. The Zunes normally retail for $300.
Students quickly began loading their own music and videos on the devices to share space with their lessons. Rules for Zune use at school have been established, such as the creation of Zune-free areas and the “grandma rule,” which states that students won’t load anything on their Zune that they couldn’t show their grandma.
There are both proponents and critics of the presence of the Zunes at the school. On the one hand, certain subjects could be greatly enhanced by having the Zunes, such as Spanish vocabulary words that could be listened to over and over again for pronunciation, or civil war studies that could include battlefield maps and powerpoint presentations.
On the other hand, some see the Zunes as a distraction, saying that students aren’t actually using them for their studies, instead just taking advantage of the media for entertainment and social networking. One history teacher said that he has talked to students and hasn’t found any who actually use it for academic purposes.
At the school, teachers are assisted in creating their podcasts and other lessons by a group of students themselves, who are technologically savvy. They are known as the Zunies.
What do you think?
Mary Ann Romans writes about everything related to saving money in the Frugal Blog, technology in the Computing Blog, and creating a home in the Home Blog. You can read more of her articles by clicking here.