Increasing Personalized Learning Through Technology

Why the iPod Touch?

I believe the iPod Touch is the “best-fit” mobile device for Glanford Middle School at this time.  It is a cost-effective, user-friendly learning tool that has been tested and used in other educational settings that we can learn much from in order to use the device to its maximum pedagogical benefit. The iPod Touch provides a wide variety of educational tools in a handheld device leading to savings in resource expenditures, such as textbooks, dictionaries, reading materials and tools. The iPod Touch is wifi-enabled, but does not have phone capability, which addresses some of the concerns our parents and staff have about cell phone use at school.  This means that we will maintain our current “no cell phone policy” until we are ready to revisit it. Perhaps a successful trial with the iPod Touch will lead to more acceptance of mobile devices at school leading to discussion in regards to removing the cell phone ban and moving forward with other forms of mobile technology at school.  Glanford Middle School has just installed wifi throughout the building, so we will be able to use the iPod Touches immediately. No further technical installations will be needed, and no support will be required from IT staff to maintain the mobile devices throughout the trial project.

Pedagogical Benefits and Project Goals

How will the iPod Touch promote learning? What value does it add?

The latest generation of the iPod Touch provides a wide variety of tools and functions, including wifi Internet connection, HD video and photo capability, facetime connection, an eBook reader, a voice recorder, a large selection (500,000+) of third party applications (37% of which are free), multi-tasking capability, text and note-taking capability, and many other tools, such as a calendar and calculator that all support learning in the classroom and around the clock. The variety of applications promotes personalized learning and supports various learning styles. Figure 1, Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, demonstrates how various applications fit into the different levels of learning domains, and it can be seen that there are multiple applications for each learning domain.  Students will be able to view United Streaming videos, and teacher and student created videos and lesson materials on their device at school and at home. Some of these applications support the development of organizational skills and ownership of learning, such as “myHomework” and “iCal”, which are important goals at the middle school level. The variety of applications and uses of the iPod Touch encourage students to self-manage and take ownership of their learning (Nadler, 2010).

                                                                 Figure One: Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

The use of the iPod Touch can be further categorized into four major areas of use:

–      content delivery in the form of pdfs, eBooks, videos, text, visuals, podcasts, etc.

–      data collection from experiments, fieldwork, interviews, research

–      feedback via clickers, surveys, quizzes, email, etc.

–      support tools such as calculators, dictionaries, thesaurus, etc.

Specific goals of this trial project are:

  1. Support students and teachers in developing their digital literacy skills, and allowing students to assume their roles as “digital natives” using tools in a responsible manner.
  2. Students will be able to connect to the Internet and explore, locate and share relevant news articles, podcasts, images and videos and share the same with classmates and others.
  3. Students will be able to locate and use content-relevant software applications, known as apps, to be used as tools for peer collaboration, research, interaction and learning.
  4. Students will maximize the potential of the classroom website and blog site.
  5. Students will be able to participate in “virtual” group settings.
  6. Students will be able to maximize their personal learning styles by exploring and using applications that support their learning styles and by participating in project-based assignments.
  7. Students will be able to record, schedule, manage and organize relevant class and school events such as homework, reading, assignments, projects, tests and other assessments, and due dates using “iCal” calendar and “myHomework” applications.
  8. Students will be encouraged to present insightful comments and suggestions to both peers and teachers regarding ideas for use, the discovery of appropriate apps and content, and troubleshooting.

Cost Analysis

The iPod Touch is a cost-effective device at an individual price of $229 each.  No additional data plan will need to be purchased, as the school is wifi-enabled.  Ideally each student will have their own iPod Touch to use, therefore, a class set of 30 iPod Touches will need to be purchased for each participating class. A charging cart, or charging system will also need to be purchased per class. Currently, Apple is offering a charge cart containing 20 iPod Touches for $5999, but other charging options are available. A protective case for each device is recommended. Expenses could be reduced if we have students who are willing to provide their own iPod Touch.  Additional funding for professional development of participating teachers and school staff is recommended.  There will be no additional support or intervention required by IT support staff due to the design of the device.  There is the possibility of obtaining grant funding from various organizations. The district technology advisor should be consulted for his advice on this matter

Start-up Recommendations

I propose we poll teachers for interest in participating in the trial project to see how many teachers are interested in participating. Depending on the response and our budget, we can decide how many participating classes we will be able to fund.  I suggest the selected teachers should be willing to form and participate in a learning and support committee for the purpose of assisting each other in the implementation, planning, trouble-shooting and on-going development of the project. Nadler’s “Slide to Learn: A Beginner’s Guide to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad in Education, Volume 1.5”  is recommended as a resource tool for participating teachers: and it can be downloaded to their iPod Touch. This group will meet regularly throughout the school year and provide school staff with regular updates at monthly staff meetings on project observations and developments, and a final overview with presentation including their recommendations on continuation, alteration, or expansion of this project at the end of the trial period. In consultation with participating teachers, professional development opportunities should also be made available throughout the trial period as deemed appropriate.

Go to this video for an overview of “Slide to Learn: A Beginner’s Guide to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad in Education, Volume 1.5:”

Evaluation Proposal:

In order to produce baseline measurements, participating staff and students will be surveyed at the beginning of the trial period on their overall technology attitudes, experience and skills, and their knowledge and use of the iPod Touch.  After an introductory period of iPod Touch use, students will be surveyed on their initial impressions of using the iPod Touch in their daily learning environment.  Staff will also confer with each other to discuss their initial impressions on teaching with the iPod Touch and student work and response to using the iPod Touch. Teachers will regularly confer to help gain insight into using the iPod Touch effectively in the classroom.  At the midway point of the trial period, students will compete a reflection on their growth as a learner using the iPod Touch and a survey of which applications and tools they found useful for learning.  At the end of the trial period, each student will complete a final survey and a reflection in the form of an analysis of how the iPod Touch assisted him or her in the completion of a major assignment.  Students will be encouraged to use any form of presentation, including multimedia, for their reflection. Participating staff will prepare a presentation to school staff incorporating an analysis of the student surveys and reflections, student achievement, and teacher experience and observations, including their recommendations for future use of mobile devices at Glanford Middle School.

References and Support Material:

1.  BC Ministry of Education Personalized Learning Discussion Guide, 2011:

2. Project goals adapted from:  “Cross Curricular Mobile Learning for Students Using the iPod Touch as 1:1 Devices” 2009 document:

3.  “Digital Media and the 21st Century Learner,” a video produced by the McArthur Foundation:

4.  Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year Olds. A Kaiser Family Foundation Study, January 2010. or 8010.cfm

5.  Horizon Report 2011. New Media Consortium, pages 12 to 15:

6.  “iPod Touch in Education:” a website with detailed information about using the iPod touch in the classroom including recommended apps, lesson plans, developing apps, accessories for podcasting, and student response systems.

7. “Learning In Hand” website. Author: Tony Vincent -an informative website with detailed descriptions of iPod educational apps and tools. The website also gives detailed information on all other forms of mobile devices.

8.  “Learning with the iPod,” a blog written by Australian educator Jenny Ashby focusing on her iPod Touch project and student learning:

9.  “Personalized Learning with the iPod Touch,” a blog written by Australian educator Louise Duncan:

10.  “Slide to Learn: A Beginner’s Guide to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad in Education, Volume 1.5.” Jonathan Nalder and Slide2Learn-contains detailed information on getting started with Apple mobile devices, how to use them to their greatest potential, and personalized and differentiated learning opportunities:  and Slide to Learn ning: Here is a video review of this document narrated by the author:

11.  “uLearning Blog,” a blog written by Jonathan Nalder focusing on “news and views of ubiquitous , mobile, connected 21st century learning:”

12. “32 Interesting Ways to Use the iPod Touch in the Classroom” by Mark Warner’s Ideas to Inspire. ipodtouch.htm


Blooms digital taxonomy:

Start-Up figure:

Collaboration photo:


iPod Touch in hand:



Student using iPod:



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