I had an interesting day. I was ''in charge'' as all other leadership was out of the school for the day. I had two school groups coming to look at our interactive whiteboard program and a vendor coming to look at our network regarding an upgrade to our switches and the setting up of a wireless laptop program for our MYLU students. In between those commitments I was going to work on my Internet Safety Night presentation for our parents next week. As Murphy's law would have it, the day didn't turn out like that what with mix ups with relief teachers, looking after spare kids who didn't bring notes for a local excursion, checking that kids who weren't going on camp actually made it to their temporary classrooms and dealing with a misbehaviour issue. So, at the end of the school day, when I suggested to my learning team colleagues that our meeting should be held at the local coffee shop and get away from the school grounds, they agreed.
At this meeting over cappuccinos and Coke, the subject of several disengaged students came up. One teacher observed that when one student was on a computer with a set of headphones on and his choice of website based music going full tilt, his focus on his task improved noticeably and his disruption factor towards other students faded to nothing. The conversation wandered one to the possible use of iPods or any sort of personal mp3 player being a useful tool for these types of kids where they could hide behind a "barrier of sound" that eliminated distraction and temptation when working on their own set work. We talked about the equity issue, the setting of ground rules regarding appropriate use and if this idea would help some students in concentration or whether it just avoided the development of coping skills in the regular classroom environment. I suggested that we open this idea up for discussion in class meetings with the kids and see what they thought as a first step.
Marg, one of my colleagues, suggested that I take it to my learning network, which shows that my colleagues appreciate the power of my online interactions even if they aren't involved with their own. There's been plenty of posting regarding the use of iPods as a mode of instruction but this is a slightly different angle. So, while posing any sort of request to the edublogosphere is a mixture of hope, imposition and assumption, I'm asking any classroom educators or consultants who see a fair bit of classroom life to consider responding via the comments or a trackbacked post on your own blog to the following questions.
Does your school have a policy on iPod use (or equivalent) for students within the classroom?
Have you seen iPods (or equivalent) being used in classrooms?
Have iPods (or equivalent) been used as part of a student's preferred learning style?
Have iPods (or equivalent) helped with students achievement or engagement?
How has the use of iPods (or equivalent) been negotiated within these classrooms?
Any other general comments about our discussion very welcome. We really aren't sure about what approach (if any) to take...