Listen and learn

It’s not always music. Increasingly, students are listening to lectures, books and foreign language conversation on MP3 players, reports USA Today.

Teachers, especially at the college level, are increasingly making resources available in MP3 form: Michael Barrett, a cardiologist at Temple University, even put recordings of heart murmurs online so his medical students could download and listen to them, instead of squeezing in time with a patient.

“The iPod becomes a simulated patient, really,” Barrett said.

I can’t help fearing that reading will go out of fashion.

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  1. wayne martin says:

    The use of MP3 players is just a natural extension of the Walkman, but will vastly more storage capacity and ultimately more “logic” capability. Seeing “language lab” uses near the top of the list is quite predictable. For all of those schools suffering from immigration problems (such as English not spoken at home), then having short courses designed for kids at each grade level would seem to be very easy to do. Vocabulary is one of the most important needs for new speakers. Having downloads of vocabulary sets of any size would be no particular problem. Expect to see these devices increase in capability so that signal processing software can be executed which will allow the iPod (or whatever) to be able to analyze the attempts at repeating the vocabulary and provide instant feedback to the child. Over time, it’s likely to see Bluetooth (or some such) interfaces developed which will allow the kid’s recorded speech to be uploaded to a teacher’s workstation for review and grading at a later time.

    As to reading .. time is precious. Being able to assimilate more material in limited time frames will be crucial to individual success. Expect to see traditional reading sharing more of center stage with audio and video learning tools and resources.

  2. I don’t forsee the death of reading. When the internet became such a repository of reading material, book publishers and librarians across the country worried that books would become obsolete. Yet book sales continue to climb every year. I have two anecdotes to offer as evidence.

    1. Libraries continue to grow beyond their space, not just with audio recordings, but books.

    2. My town now has dozens of smaller local bookstores in addition to a Borders and Barns & Noble.

    I use audio recordings from the Great Courses series and books on CD regularly since I have a very long commute. That doesn’t take away from my reading habit, just augments it a great deal.