HALLSVILLE — Fourteen-year-old Amy Myers does not own an Apple iPhone, but she knows how to work one. Depending on the results of a Hallsville Independent School District pilot program, she might soon get a similar device to aid her education.
Amy is one of about 65 Hallsville High School students and four elementary classes participating in the IDEA (Innovative Devices for Educational Assistance) Pilot Project, which aims to determine whether using personal, handheld computing devices helps students. High school students are using iPod Touches in the project, and elementary students are using iPod Nanos. The project began three weeks ago.
Although the devices have not seen much use in classroom instruction, Myers said teachers have downloaded educational videos and audio recordings to the devices. The downloaded material is assigned as homework, and students must watch and listen before answering a worksheet.
"We like watching movies," said Myers, who credits the technology for a slight increase in her grade in biology class.
Her classmate, Ryan Cole, said one benefit of the recorded lessons is that they can be paused and watched again. He said he can also take notes in classes on the tiny computer.
Mike Stanfield, district technology director, is hoping grade bumps will be seen across the board. Stanfield said if the project produces a noticeable increase in learning and retention, every student could receive an iPod Nano or iPod Touch for educational use.
Stanfield said the pilot project, which has a budget of $100,000, was the result of wanting to expose all students to technology, even if the students cannot purchase the devices themselves. He said the Apple devices were purchased at discounted prices.