The iconic iPod line from Apple comes in a variety of shapes, forms, and colors. Now teachers are finding that they have various nefarious uses, as well.First it was baseball caps and cellphones. Then teachers started clearing the memories on graphing calculators, or forbidding them all together. The constant battle against cheating is a difficult one, because young people traditionally have a better grasp of technology than that of older generations. Now a new threat has entered the scholastic realm: iPods.

Schools across the country are targeting digital music and multimedia players as a potential cheating tool. Electric cheat sheets like iPods and other portable music players can be concealed under clothing, with nothing more than a thin wire and an earbud to give away the dishonest student.

Mountain View High School in Meridian, Ohio recently banned digital music players after a member of the teaching staff serendipitously overheard a student conversation about how to download formulas, answers, and even audio files with the answers in them to their iPods. Cheats include everything from crib sheets hidden in iPod “lyrics” files to the old Schoolhouse Rock song about how a bill gets ratified in Congress. (Think American Government or Civics Class.)

Cheating is not just an American phenomenon, either. Schools in Canada and as far away as Australia have banned the use of digital music players either in school as a whole, or during test taking.

Other Side of the Coin
Duke University in North Carolina began providing iPods to its students three years ago as part of an experiment to see how the devices could be used to enhance learning. The hip music players proved to be invaluable to music, engineering, and sociology disciplines. Tim Dodd, executive director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke said “Trying to fight the technology without a dialogue on values and expectations is a losing battle.” He further expounded that while teachers should be aware and try to defeat technologically advanced forms of cheating, that it was essential to work that same technology into the curriculum in order to provide a more advanced and interactive educational environment.