Adviser puts iPod to use
Written by Idea File Staff
To Susan Asher, the idea was simple.
Every day, she saw dozens of students walking around the halls of Inza R. Wood Middle School carrying iPods and MP3 players, the small, portable digital music players that have become popular and commonplace among kids today.
Asher, the yearbook adviser at the school in Wilsonville, Ore., figured that the trendy devices could be put to productive use by her staff.
“I’m really into technology,” said Asher. “Half the kids have (iPods) these days, so I figured there had to be a way to use them.”
As it turns out, there was. Working from an idea she originally got from her daughter’s singing instructor, Asher learned the iPods could be used like a tape recorder to record yearbook story interviews, just by purchasing an accessory.
“The reality is, even a lot of adults have trouble taking really good, accurate notes by hand,” said Asher. “At the same time, you don’t see many people using clunky, old tape recorders anymore.”
Before the year began, Asher told the yearbook staff that better writing in this year’s book was going to be a priority. Recording interviews and generating accurate notes and better quotes was an important part of that process.
“The kids love it,” said Asher. “It’s very gadgety, so they feel cool when they go to interview somebody.”
The voice recorders are small attachments that plug into the top of the iPod. The recording functions are controlled on the same wheel that controls playing music. Depending on the brand, the recorders typically cost between $50-80.
After an interview is complete, users can retrieve the voice memos by plugging the iPod into a computer. The files are high-quality MP3s, just like the music users listen to on iPods.
“The sound quality is phenomenal,” said Asher. “And they pick up voices very well. I sat in on an interview that one of my students did, and it picked up three of us
talking just fine.”
Asher purchased three of the iPod recorders for the Wood yearbook staff, and she was even lucky enough to get them at a wholesale rate since the father of one yearbook student actually owns and operates an iPod accessory website. The students on staff who have their own iPod use them with the school’s recorders. Asher even owns two of her own iPods, which she has let students use for yearbook interviews.
Unfortunately, there have been some hard lessons learned by the staff. The iPod voice recorders are small, which means they can be easily lost or misplaced. Of the three purchased for yearbook, Asher said two have already disappeared.
In addition, some students have learned the hard way to be diligent in downloading their voice memos after completing an interview.
“The biggest thing I tell them is, as soon as their interview is done, they must download the interview immediately onto one of our computers,” said Asher. “If they don’t, the tendency is for the file to just get lost.”
Asher said any problems the staff has encountered this year with the iPods will be fixed with experience, and she’s quick to recommend that other advisers utilize the technology.
“It really can be such a wonderful device for an adviser,” said Asher. “If half the students on staff have an iPod, you might as well provide the recorders and use them.”