iPods as a foreign culture learning tool

April 8, 2008, 7:12 am

This is a slide from a recent talk.

This is an idea that we are still brainstorming. I read about a community college (somewhere in Illinois or Pennsylvania perhaps?) that uses iPods as a foreign language learning tool. Building on that theme, I am interested in creating an immersive experience for students that are planning to study abroad. Georgia Tech set a goal for 50% of undergraduates to study at least one semester abroad, so I feel there is an opportunity for the library to participate in that mission.

So why not take an iPod and fill it with foreign language tutorials and exercises, as well as a wide range of cultural and entertainment content: video clips, music, sports highlights, tv shows, and commercials. Add tons of images such as landmarks, currency, street maps, public transportation schedules, and fashion. Along with newspaper and magazine articles, restaurant menus, travel guides, and literary works.

This could be a very rich multimedia experience, but it doesn’t stop there— the special ingredient is student-added content. Upon their return to the US, students are invited (or perhaps it could be part of a class assignment?) to share their adventures in the form of text, video, images, and audio recordings. This adds more depth to the collection—first hand encounters from their peers.

I imagine offering an iPod for several of the countries that students travel to. For example the "French" iPod or the "Chinese" iPod and putting them on reserve with other accessories as well as making some content available online so that students could download the material themselves. This becomes somewhat of a historical archive that reaches beyond our school, and is potentially useful for anyone interested in traveling or studying those countries. It’s a great branding opportunity for Georgia Tech.

That’s the idea in a nutshell– still coming together. We’ll figure out copyright along the way, but I think it is something that could be cool and beneficial. We’ll see if it gets any lift.

For more on iPods and Academia read about Duke’s experience.

A friend just mentioned customs, manners, and traditions as well. What else???

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