So Apple came out with the long rumored iPod Photo yesterday … I, like all the other Mac folks out here were reading about the features well before it was announced and you know, until I really saw it and started to look at its specifications and features, I thought “whatever.” Then, when I saw how Apple actually pulled it off, kept the form factor close to the same and how it really works I started to think about how powerful an academic (and business) tool this thing can be.
I do a lot of traveling and I am always giving presentations … sometimes my trips take my across the country, but at the same time a lot of them are on campus, are day trips around the state, or other “down and back” endeavors. For the long distance, multi-day trips I would never consider leaving my 12″ PowerBook at home — it’s just too much a part of the whole travel experience (digital photos, email, music, web, DVD, etc). But, with this new iPod Photo, I can see instances where that’s all I have to take with me to do my presentations. I use Keynote as my presentation software — simply because it is so much better than PowerPoint … I need to look at it more, but I could see myself pulling jpegs of all my key slides for my presentations and simply run them via the iPod Photo … my pictures, my music, & my presentations all running from this little device that fits in my pocket. If you can do “On-the-Go” photo “playlists” then I could quickly assemble presentations from a whole slew of key slides I use. Cool.
I also read you can sync slideshows to audio … I have been playing with the whole podcasting thing for a couple of weeks now … I’ve even gotten it figured out how to route voice, music, iChat, and really anything else into an iPod for recording … my colleague, Bart Pursel and I are going to start a (maybe) weekly podcast this week or next, so stay tuned for that. Anyway, back to the idea … if I can exert some influence via my role in the Apple Digital Campus, I am going to push for a simple authoring tool to allow everyday people to create podcasts that can be synced with images — think digital photos, presentation slides, maps, or anything else that is graphical in nature. These little iPod Podcast Presentations could be wrapped up and served via a RSS enclosure so they could be delivered to your audience as often as you want — all automatically in portable way. I’ve done research with HP about doing these types of things with the Pocket PC, but the results were less than perfect — the devices just couldn’t hold their own and had too many features to be easy to use.
It would be great to have all my students using an iPod Photo — like the Duke project on steroids — so I could build short interactive iPod Podcast Presentations to cover all sorts of supplemental material. Let alone the commercial applications — Museum tours, city tours, University tours, just in time training applications — imagine if you are a network system support person and can’t remember how to repair a bad switch and you could pull up, on the spot, and interactive guide on the iPod Photo! Lots of cool applications there!
All in all, I am more impressed with the device than I thought I would be — almost surely because I like just about anything Apple does, but this one has some real potential outside of its intended purpose. When you combine this with the One-Click Assessment concept I’ve blogged about before, the iPod is shaping up to be a hidden jewel for technology integration in the classroom … I still agree with Steve Jobs that a portable video device isn’t what people want, but I bet if they came out with one I would (a) buy one, and (b) think ways to use it beyond watching illegally downloaded movies from Bit Torrent — not that I do that. And yes, I did buy one yesterday — all 60 GB of it. When it gets here, I’ll be taking it apart to see how it can be used to have a larger impact.