Friday, October 28, 2005

After Songs and Videos, Crib Notes Become the Latest Offering for iPods (Chronicle of HIgher Ed)

By BROCK READ

With iPods slowly working their way into college classrooms, it was only a matter of time before someone put the devices to use as a way of cutting corners on course work.

Now a pair of companies has stepped up, offering a line of iPod-ready crib notes to such literary classics as The Great Gatsby and The Scarlet Letter. The notes are taken from study guides published by SparkNotes -- a company that has marketed itself as a hipper version of CliffsNotes, the giant of the field -- and are sold by iPREPpress, a business that retails reference material that can be viewed on the digital music players.

Right now about a dozen titles are available at $4.95 apiece. But the companies plan to publish digital guides for about 50 English-department cornerstones, according to Kurt Goszyk, the founder of iPREPpress.

The guides basically turn the iPod into a text-based browser: Students can read biographical sketches of characters, review themes and motifs, and test themselves with study questions and answers -- all by using the iPod's click wheel to navigate a series of hyperlinks.

But students can also listen to overviews of the books' plots and protagonists while they work out at the gym or walk from class to class. The study guides each include about six or seven minutes of audio material for students on the go, said Mr. Goszyk. "But in areas where you really have to concentrate" -- like SparkNotes' more detailed summaries of quotations and symbolism -- "we kept it as only text," he said. (more...)