It takes innovative thinking to persuade Apple to part with 50 iPods. But at least one question answers itself: "The project is called iPodagogy, but don't blame us," says Steven Moore, acting principal teacher of learning and teaching at Gracemount High School, Edinburgh.
"Duke University in the States now gives iPods to their first-year students. But we're the first high school, I think, to provide an iPod to every pupil in a class and all their teachers, so they can use them for learning whenever they want."
Conceived as a portable music player and released in 2002, the iPod, already in its fifth generation, now supports video, works with Windows or Mac, and has annual sales of 22 million and rising. The Gracemount iPods are 4th generation, with photo and audio capability and "just enough features to make a useful tool for learning", says Moore.
"You can record bits of lessons, transfer files from school to home, make notes, keep a calendar. Then there's podcasting, where you set up files of images and audio and distribute them to subscribers."
iPodagogy at Gracemount is a 20-week project for second-year pupils, begun in November 2005 and operating within a virtual learning environment from Etech. "We use Studywiz for teaching, homework, discussions and tracking pupil progress," says Moore. "It's very good. In iPodagogy it's helping us get material out to the pupils."
iPodagogy will be evaluated by Edinburgh City's eTeam - which supports school use of ICT - using Miice (Measurement of the Impact of ICT on Children's Education), the standard for assessment of educational ICT in Scotland. "We know iPods motivate kids, but we're hoping for real benefits to learning in subjects like art, maths and languages," says Moore.
"A big surprise already has been that some of our teachers who weren't into technology are now using it all they can - because iPods are friendlier than computers."