Technology solves problems but also creates its own problems… After realizing that one of the ports on the USB transfer is not working we negotiated replacing it with the vendor. This was finally achieved a couple of weeks ago. The success involved a lot of extra work for me because the whole system was replaced and I had to again number the mp3 recorder/players and their boxes, place padding on tiny headphones and perform some other fun, stimulating tasks, but now we have a full set of working 15 mp3 recorder/players and a “mother” from which I can copy to the others any material needed. Problem solved!
I identified a more serious problem in the fact that less and less students were using the mp3 devices to record answers to assessments. As the use of recording rather than writing is designed to save classroom time which could be better used for instruction I was concerned about it. I thought it might be that some students still do not feel comfortable using the not-so-user-friendly mp3, and so I decided to devote another twenty minutes of class time for a refresher course. It seems that my hunch was correct as this made a big change in the number of users and the question “can we use the mp3s?” is heard again in class. I have to admit that the designers of the mp3 could have done a better job. This small devise does have many functions which can be worked with three moving parts, but for children, even our tech-savvy generation, it is hard to work with. The chief complaint of the students is that it turns itself off frequently and unexpectedly, usually without preserving any unsaved recording in progress.
However, I’m trying to get the most out of it. Before I assess students’ comprehension of a story I record myself reading the story and copy it onto the mp3s. I do that to benefit students who are not strong readers and who sometimes do not get to properly demonstrate their understanding because their inaccurate reading leads them to misunderstand the substance of the story. However, when they listen to an accurately read narrative they are able to show their understanding. Because the assessment is of story comprehension and not reading level this is a fair evaluation.