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EDUCATION REPORT - Duke University's iPod Experiment - 2004-08-04

Broadcast: August 5, 2004

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

Duke University in Durham, North Carolina recently announced a campaign to increase creative uses of technology in education. The university will provide each of its one-thousand-six-hundred first-year students with a digital device called an Apple iPod.

Apple iPods are small devices that copy, save and play music and written material. Duke University officials say the iPods will contain information about the school that its new students need to know. The university is also establishing a special Duke Web site so the students can copy to their iPods information provided by their professors.

University officials say the experiment is part of a cooperation program between Duke and the Apple Computer company. Each iPod sells for about three-hundred dollars in stores. The experiment will cost Duke about five-hundred-thousand dollars. That includes the costs of hiring a computer specialist, paying for a research study and buying the digital devices for the students. The students will be able to keep their iPods free of charge. But they must pay for replacements if the devices are lost or broken.

Duke says it is providing only its first-year students with the devices as a way to control the experiment and make it easy to examine the results. Researchers will do the study after the students have used the iPods for one year.

The university wants to know if the iPods help people take part in creative educational experiences. Officials say that success will be measured by the number of ways that Duke students and professors use iPod recordings for educational purposes.

Duke officials say they expect the iPod experiment to get professors and students thinking creatively about how to use the devices. They expect students will develop new ways to use the iPod. For example, one official said the student newspaper could create a weekly editorial that students could listen to by using the devices.

University officials also expect Duke professors to suggest their own ideas about new ways to use the devices. Officials say professors could use the iPods to add music or foreign languages to their classes. One Duke professor is already planning to have students use the iPods to record lectures, take notes, and record music and other information from experts.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Steve Ember.