Tuesday, October 03, 2006

But should teachers be scared of the Zune?

Mike Elgan, writing in Computerworld, explains why Microsoft's new Zune mp3-player "scares Apple to the core." Available in the US beginning in mid-November for around $250, the Zune will have a 3 inch screen, an FM tuner, and a variety of other nifty features. Elgan notes that the new player will have a seamless interface with Windows, the Xbox, and Soapbox (their version of YouTube), a screen that can be turned sideways (to landscape) for watching movies, and that Microsoft has deals for video and television content from just around every studio you could name.

The most intriguing part, though, is the Zune's peer-to-peer wireless capabilities, making it possible for users to share songs, photos, and other data with other Zune users within Wi-Fi range. Users will be able to choose a "ZuneTag," which is a unique user name that others will see on a kind of "buddy list" when they connect via Wi-Fi. The device will have a "Community" menu from which users can select an item called "Nearby" to display all Zunes within range.

Elgan writes:
"Tweens, teens and twentysomethings have acquired the habit of feverishly sharing videos and songs. Today, they mostly have to wait until they get home and use their PCs to do so. With the Zune, students will be free to share music, videos and photos right there in class. They'll be able to pass notes to one another. The Zune isn't just a solitary music player. Think of it as a portable, wireless, hardware version of MySpace."
Wait . . . Pass notes to one another? In class?

With NYC schools already banning mobile phones, are schools going to need to become technology-free zones? How should teachers monitor student use of this technology?

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