The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Intellectual iPods

Is downloading lectures a good idea?

Imagine strolling across the Astroturf in front of Dallas Hall with your iPod in hand, rocking out, not to (your favorite band inserted here), but to the smooth, intellectual stylings of your history professor.

This scenario may seem far out of the realm of possibility to some SMU students, but there is a growing trend of universities using such technology to enhance the higher education experience. More and more, professors are making boring classroom materials iTunes friendly.

Duke University, for example, hands iPods out to its incoming freshmen. Gee, all Ed Board ever got was a stinking T-shirt.

Recently, CNN.com did a piece on Georgia College and State University, which recently won the privilege of hosting the Digital Campus Leadership Institute. The professors at GCSU have formed a task force and are devoted to discovering new ways to implement the use of the iPod in the classroom.

This application of the iPod for educational purposes could be good or bad. On the one hand, Ed Board sees the benefit of providing a convenient way for students to access supplemental course materials. The fact that campuses recognize this potential and are embracing this popular device and integrating it into an academic environment is truly innovative.

Yet, we are concerned that this could be taken a step too far. Nothing can substitute the value of actual classroom discussion and interaction with one’s peers. We also worry that students will simply begin to download the lectures online and not feel compelled to make an appearance in the lecture hall. Some students don’t feel this obligation as it is.

Let alone the fact that iPods are typically employed to drown out professors, not encourage them. Not that Ed Board would or has ever done this, and shame on you if you have. But, tell the truth: We’ve all seen that one person who has great attendance habits but isn’t really present. In other words, their butt is in the chair, but they’re listening to John Mayer.

The larger point is that learning isn’t for the lazy. Students should be expected to go to the library sometimes and find materials on their own. If the technology is available, then use it, but hopefully Podcasts won’t replace individual research and interaction with professors. If everything is handed to you, then how accomplished can you feel at the end of the day?

 

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