Personal Media Players And Alternate Strategies For Educatio

A growing number of schools and school districts are adopting the use of personal media players to assist in teaching LD students. This move has been spurred in part by the continued decrease in price of MP3 players and hand held computers, but also by the increase of free multimedia content that can be incorporated into lessons.

In the article “Learning with Personal Media Players,” Elizabeth Millard looks at a few schools in Texas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey that have had success using personal media players as educational tools.

Robin Foley, the director of Special Education Projects for the Federation for Children with Special Needs, emphasized to Millard that portable music players like the iPod—and hand held computers like the Palm Tungsten—give special needs students greater flexibility in how they learn.

While seemingly basic, the techniques discussed in the article appeal to the hipness of personal electronics to encourage students to listen to audio books and audio test prep guides, as well using the devices to include both text audio of test questions. The advantage of personal media devices over cassettes and CDs is that they offer a more direct access to information. If, for example, a student is using an iPod to assist him during a test, by providing audio of the test questions, that student can freely listen to the question as many times as he needs to achieve comprehension.

In another technique, used in Texas to help LD ELL work on improving their English language skills, teachers end students home with MP3 players. The students will then record themselves reading their texts out loud. Not only does this provide the students with an audio copy of their text, but it also allows the teacher to monitor the students growth as an English reader.

By implementing personal media players or hand held computers into the classroom, teachers can greatly vary their educational arsenal. This connect back to the idea that no “one size fits all.” Since these devices can be very customizable, it is possible for the teacher to address the specific needs of each LD student.

Of those that were interviewed for this article, there seems to be a unanimous feeling that personal media technology is an unavoidable tool for helping LD students learn. Foley says, “This is definitely more than a passing trend. This is a way to use technology for more effective education and kids love it. That’s a pretty powerful combination.” While I don’t doubt that technology will continue to play an increasingly important roll in the classroom, I believe that these devices still cost too much for most school districts across the country. Until this technology becomes common place in poor rural urban districts, there is always the strong chance that these devices will be more of a distraction than an aid.

By Rachael Brown

Millard, E. (2007, May). Learning with Personal Media Players. District Administration, 43(5), 61-64.