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Details On Duke's 1,800 iPod Deal

TMO Reports - Details On Duke's 1,800 iPod Deal

by , 5:30 PM EDT, July 19th, 2004

Duke University will be supplying its entire incoming freshman class of 1,650 students with iPods, with an additional 150 iPods included for academic and training purposes. The 1,800 iPod deal is part of a pilot program at Duke, and the iPods will come preloaded with school calendars and related school information.

Students will also be able to download additional materials relating to some of their classes. Students will have a Web site that is modeled after Apple's iTunes software from which to interface with available materials, and the program includes the hiring of a "academic computing specialist" to help manage the IT side of the project.

Duke officials described the project to TMO as a work in progress, and that some faculty envision being able to use the iPods as recording devices, data storage, and other delivery medium.

For instance, a Spanish class might have students listen to and record lessons in Spanish, and at least one science class intends to have its students record notes and interviews for uploading to a central server. There are no details available as of yet regarding which 3rd party microphones would be used to give the iPod recording capabilities, and the Duke officials to whom we spoke said simply, "We're still working out the details."

"The iPod project will encourage faculty to experiment with adding elements such as music, foreign language and poetry to class curricula," said Lynne O'Brien, director of Duke's Center for Instructional Technology (CIT), in a Duke University press release. Ms. O'Brien also said that faculty will be able to submit project ideas during the Fall semester.

"It's very interesting," Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of hardware product marketing, told TMO in an interview. "Duke is going to monitor this a lot to see what it does for the learning environment. We think it's very exciting and we think it's a great way to take advantage of the integration of the iPod into curriculum It will be interesting to follow it."

When asked if any other such deals are in the works, Mr. Joswiak said: "I don't want to comment on anybody else's deals, whether they've been announced or not, but certainly this is an experiment for Duke." Mr. Joswiak did not specifically deny any other deals.

The theme of this project being an experiment was repeated in the Duke University press release, with Tracy Futhey, vice president for information technology, Lynne O'Brien, and Provost Peter Lange all quoted using the word.

"We're limiting our distribution to this single class," said Mr. Lange, "because it will make it easier for us to evaluate their experience relative to other students and determine whether the iPods promoted educational innovation as we hope."

The program comes with a US$500,000 price tag, including the iPods, 1 year of AppleCare, the academic computing specialist, grant funding for faculty, and "associated research costs." The iPods will become property of the students at the end of the year, and upper classmen who take classes utilizing an iPod in the curriculum will be able to get loaner iPods for the duration of the course.

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