CANTON – Assistant Professor Brian Harte tells his students turn their iPods on when they come to class.
He’s using the highly-popular multi-media devices to deliver audio and video content in some of his Criminal Justice classes.
“Now I’d like you to write down all of your observations after watching this video,” Harte said as his students popped the earbuds into their ears.
The normal lively conversation in his class has been replaced by the sound of about 20 students scrolling through the menus, and then absolute silence each gazes into their video capable iPod Nano Mp3 players.
“We are right at the front of the trends in higher education by integrating these new technologies,” Harte said after the students had begun their pod-based learning exercise. “I see my students tune out all other distractions when they are watching videos and listening to audio on their iPods.”
During the trial runs, students are asked to review videos at their own speeds and make notes about what they are watching as if they were drafting a police report. The first video showed a police chase down a busy interstate. The method allows the students to watch the videos at their own speed as many times as they’d like while they record their observations.
“I liked the podcast better than watching a video in class because I felt more in control of the content,” Benjamin A. Dent, a student in Harte’s class said.
Dent’s classmates nodded in agreement as a traditional in-class conversation about the video began. The students went on to compare their notes about the chase and the police response portrayed in the podcast.
Harte said he began considering iPods as an emerging educational technology last year and filed a Campus Enhancement grant through the SUNY Canton foundation to purchase 20 iPods. “For some lessons, I think that it is best to speak in a language that students are already accustomed to, or through a method that they consider cool,” he said.
So far, Harte’s lessons consist of interactive video and audio-based lessons like the police chase. He said in the future that he hopes to stream even more interactive content to students on the devices. “You can already download a searchable copy of the New York State Penal Code as an iPhone application,” he noted.
A recent study found that students using iTunes University do better on exams than those who are strictly bound to day-to-day lectures. Podcasted lectures offer students the chance to replay difficult parts of a lecture and therefore take better notes, according to Dani McKinney, a psychologist at SUNY Fredonia, who led the study.
This modernized course delivery is nothing new at SUNY Canton. Approximately four years ago, the college launched SUNY Canton OL to deliver its online courses to broader range of students. Some of the content integrated in the high-tech course offerings is also available for iPod downloads.
Harte is the first at the college to offer the devices as learning tools in his classroom.
SUNY Canton offers a wide variety of career-driven bachelor’s, associate, and certificate programs, as well as three master’s degrees in conjunction with SUNYIT, Utica. Most of SUNY Canton’s new four-year programs are designed so students can take them on-campus, online, or both. SUNY Canton OnLine features more than 100 courses online each semester. The college’s athletic teams belong to the NAIA’s Sunrise Conference, enabling students to compete in their respective sports for four years.
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