Worcester State University Professor of Visual and Performing Arts Kyle Martin

Martin Finds Alternative Teaching Tool With iPods in the Classroom

March 28, 2008
By: WSU News

Kyle Martin (Visual and Performing Arts) knows what it’s like to haul 15 CDs into a class. In his music theory course, he might play excerpts from classical, rock, jazz and country during a single class to illustrate the continuum of music’s constituent parts.

“Students are learning these concrete components,” he said, and he likes to have them listen to a variety of musical styles so they can learn to identify them. “And they’re impatient with the loading time for each CD.”

The awkwardness of dealing with all those CDs and their glacial loading time gave Martin the idea for his 2007-08 mini-grant proposal, “Apple iPod in the Classroom.” He’s creating music libraries on the iPod.

“It’s portable,” he said, “and I can create a variety of playlists with ease.” He can pull up a playlist for a particular class, create new playlists based on the music on the iPod, and shuffle the playlists around to suit his pedagogical needs.

The iPod’s ease of use is a selling point. “Everything is so easy to find,” Martin said. “And I can quickly cross reference the material.”

He’ll use the mini-grant to buy iPods with 160 gigabytes of storage. His plan is to create two portable music libraries for his Department’s use. In historical survey classes such as Music Appreciation, the instructor will be able to have all Beethoven symphonies available in one class, for example.

Martin may also experiment with video on the iPod, which can be useful in a course he teaches, Music of the Cinema. “I can illustrate the use of certain musical techniques in film scores,” he said. “And I could extract clips of video from movies to show using the iPod.”

He has researched the iPod’s use and points to another plus: He’s able to augment the department’s music holdings by downloading music to the iPod from iTunes. “These albums are $9.99 on iTunes,” he said. “A CD costs much more than that.”

Martin is also considering the iPod for storing students’ musical compositions to use in other classes. It’s a great way to share the music the students create, he said.


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