Personal Digital Entertainment Devices

These devices, including mp3 players, have become tremendously popular since the start of the twenty-first century. The miniaturization of processing, memory, and hard drive technology have allowed manufacturers to create small, handheld devices which today can hold tens of thousands of music, songs and video. A key feature of personal digital entertainment devices in use today is video output in a similar compressed format.

Ready access to editing and mastering hardware and software has lowered the entry point for content production, and internet distribution provides a ready outlet.

iPod

The Apple iPod, introduced in 2001, is the world's preeminent mp3 player. Although similar in technology to players from Samsung, Creative, and others, Apple captured the market with its user-friendly design. Instead of relying on buttons and switches, the iPod utilizes a touch-sensitive scroll wheel, surrounded by depressed buttons. The company's offerings range from the tiny iPod shuffle, with a scroll wheel but no display, all the way to the standard iPod with a standard 80 gigabyte (GB) hard drive. Apple also joined forces in late 2006 with athletic apparel giant Nike to market the Nike+iPod combined music player and digital pedometer device. Apple has recently announced the I-Phone which has the functionality of an I-Pod combined with the abilities of a Mobile Phone. Rapidly growing offerings of online video are now available in what are termed "podcasts", compressed video in a format that is viewable through mp3 players such as the iPod.

Other Digital Audio Players (DAPs)

The Apple iPod, definitely not the first digital audio player, has increased the awareness of the general public to digital media. According to Wikipedia, these DAPs play a variety of formats: "such as Windows Media Audio (WMA), and, to a degree, Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and MP3. Some of these formats also may incorporate restrictive DRM technology, such as Janus and FairPlay, which are often part of certain paid download sites. Other formats are completely patent-free or otherwise open, such as Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Speex (all part of the Ogg open multimedia project), and Module file formats."

The first DAP was introduced in 1997 by South Korean SaeHan Information Systems (who would later be bought by iRiver). This device was called the MPMan F10 and had a 32MB capacity. DAPs would continue to have limited flash-based storage until 1999, when Compaq introduced laptop hard drives in their Personal Jukebox. This device had a capacity of 4.8GB (estimated 1200 songs).

Educational Uses:

Teachers could provide support material through audio or video, rather than text. These materials can then be time shifted to suit the learner's needs or even taken to a field experience to further increase the educational impact of the field experience. Many devices include recording options that would allow for interviews or recording of life or field experiences for later reflection. These devices can also be used to store and transport student's digital files.

Educational Use Issues:

Student's access of personal entertainment files may become a distraction to the classroom setting. Compatibility of different media and file formats could hinder the effective use of the devices. Compatibility and security issues with currently implemented computer technology could limit the devices effective educational application. The time it takes to produce effective educational materials or lack of pre-packaged materials may inhibit the devices educational uses. On the other hand, almost anyone that wants to produce material for this format can.

Videos

This particular example is a marketing piece but it does illustrate the convergence of technology that is occuring and giving educational functionality to these devices. The recording off-air function could be used by districts that have television broadcast facilities (many are adding throughout the US as well as through municipality or cable operated public access) to offer content and timeshifting capabilities.