I have been thinking about the connections between iPods and history lately. I started to think about this when we were interviewing job candidates. One of them mentioned that at her current campus there is a push for faculty to figure out ways to provide class content that students can access with their iPods.
Apparently, some of the faculty at her campus make their lectures available online. I really can't imagine doing that -- not so much because I would be worried about students not having to come to lecture (which I suppose they wouldn't have to do), but because I do say some things in class to try and get a laugh which 'might' be taken the wrong way it you were just listening to it out of context. For example, me making some sort of lip smacking 'ummmmm good' sound after talking about the Donner Party. People just listening to that might think I was serious. You really needed to see me rubbing my stomach to know I was joking. :P
However, I do think the use of podcasts by the history teacher in this story, Georgia College Pushes for iPod Ingenuity, is something I could do. This semester I started showing a lot more film clips, etc. in class to help students better get an idea of what I'm talking about. I have showed a clip from the Kennedy/Nixon debate, part of King's 'I have a dream' speech, and some of a Clara Bow film. These clips are only a few seconds long and I rarely use more than one in a lecture even if there is more good stuff to show. So if I could make longer clips available and more of a variety available, I think it would be helpful to students and maybe give them a different view of history than they can get solely from lecture.
Still, I am not sure whether or not it would significantly improve my student's learning. If I was sure it would, I probably could justify the time it would take to locate sources for podcasts and put them online. But until then, I'm not sure that this isn't just the new 'powerpoint' trend - which so many students make fun of these days.
Update (3.27.2006): As I suspected many podcasts never make it to a portable device.