Duke University’s iPod program is ‘going very well’

“Duke University freshmen are using their school-issued iPods to learn Spanish vocabulary, recording lectures, analyzing music, and – no surprise here – for downloading their favorite tunes. About 1,650 freshmen were given the iPods in August at cost of about $500,000 to the school. The devices are theirs to keep as long as they hang onto them through the end of the school year,’ The Associated Press reports.

“As an accessory to the iPods, Duke handed out microphone recording modules made and donated by the Belkin Corp. The program is costing the university about $500,000 for the devices and additional equipment and support staff time. Duke is evaluating the pilot project, and a report is due next month. By late March or early April, the university will decide whether to continue the program in some form with a new crop of freshmen next year, said Lynne O’Brien, director of the Duke Center for Instructional Technology, which is overseeing the experiment,” AP reports. “‘It’s going very well,’ O’Brien said.”

“The iPods have been used mostly for recording lectures and interviews and replaying them on the go. Other academic uses include analyzing music, not only in a music theory course but also in engineering labs, which examined music from the standpoint of its sound properties,” AP reports. “Widespread publicity about the program has prompted queries from textbook publishers, who might include more audio material with their print offerings as a result.”

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Duke University’s iPod program revolutionizing students’ experiences with language studies – December 04, 2004
This is so cool! Duke freshmen line up to get their Apple iPods – August 20, 2004
ABC News looks at Duke University’s plan to provide Apple iPods to students – July 23, 2004
Duke students’ new 20GB iPods will do more than just play music – July 20, 2004
Duke University to give Apple iPods to all incoming freshman – July 19, 2004


  1. If this ends up being successful, then they will probably want to cut some costs, and start offering non-iPod units. Someone at Duke will whine about needing WMA, and then Dell will show up with a truckload of whatever crap their pushing for $300,000.

    MDN Magic word: “similar” – Dell will claim they have a “similar” player, for half the cost.

  2. The big problem with books is not with the content production; it’s the printing and distribution costs that kill you. With audio the content production costs may be no less, but then you just put it on the server and let the students download it.

  3. perf.

    are you suggesting that downloadable textbooks, to be viewed on the … er..$500 iPod photo.. is what’s in store??

    (note.. college textbooks cost $500/term, with so-so resale value..) there are about 8 terms in a 4 year degree.. so.. $4000 on books, on top of tuition costs

  4. mike: that wasn’t really what I was suggesting, though your numbers make it an intriguing idea. I’m sure someone is already working on the DRM for print media so that could be a reality.
    I thought Tommy Boy questioned that audio text could be cheaper. An audiobook bought at Border’s may be more expensive than the print equivalent, but making a recording available for download on the university servers is cheaper than buying a book for every student. I’d heard that one of the aspects of Duke’s project was that they were recording lectures and making them available for download to the iPods, thereby eliminating the need for the lecturers to make, print and hand out notes.

    magic word “sense”

  5. teh costs of audio books will remain higher than you think. you don’t hve printing, binding, and distribution costs, but you do have the license and contract costs for the narrator talent.

    it costs a lot of money to hire a talent to narrate a novel, and there is a lot of editing to produce the final product. the technology and studio costs to produce are still a premium because of demand is still low.

    hardcopy textiles still dominate the market and it will be a long until that shifts.

  6. What they are doing is nothing more than podcasting. A lot of people now get information delivered via iPod. This is perfect for language studies where listening to words is just as important as reading them. Don’t try to read (no pun intended) too much into the future of this program. The goal is to get students away from computers when they are learning the language. The computer becomes too much of a distraction because you should be able to understand the words without getting a visual cue. Try it someday, you’ll notice a difference.

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