Inspiring stuff from Duke University, where they issued all first-year students with iPods, with no particular idea of what they were going to do with them pedagogically:

Well, not so fast. I believe strongly in the importance of education addressing the urgencies of the moment, but I also oppose “techno-determinism”: the tendency to think that a technology in and of itself promotes systemic change. The point of our experiment was not that an expensive technology can reform institutional practice. Rather, we were trying to orchestrate an exercise in calculated disruption – seeking to reorder some of the terms and consequences of learning in higher education. I am against the mere technologising of higher education. But I am an ardent proponent of calculated disruption of the pedagogical status quo with the aim of reshaping education for the Broadcast Yourself era of the interactive, digital age. That’s a mouthful. Let me explain.

In 2003, there was not a single known educational use for the iPod. When Apple approached Duke about giving out some technology to students as part of an Apple Digital Campus initiative, it was thinking more about laptops or multimedia suites. We went with iPods for two reasons. First, students loved them. Second, we were interested in what learning applications students might come up with if challenged to think about pedagogical uses of a technology that was already part of their everyday life. This is the opposite of the usual educational pedagogy based on the “cod liver oil” approach, where you force students to do what is “good for them” no matter how distasteful.

She finishes:

These components of pedagogical participation are essential. We can’t just drop some new electronic device into education and think our job is done. Quite the contrary, new technology is merely a catalyst for a serious rethinking of higher education for the Information Age.

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