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Best platforms for book on "tape"

I've had two special education teachers ask me recently how they should deliver "books on tape" to some of their students. Many multimodal learners can benefit from hearing the books, so audio books (or having a tutor read to them) can be really useful.

I've had two special education teachers ask me recently how they should deliver "books on tape" to some of their students. Many multimodal learners can benefit from hearing the books, so audio books (or having a tutor read to them) can be really useful. Of course, mp3 players come to mind, particularly the iPod. Since all of our schools except the high school have a Mac ecosystem in place, the iPod seems a natural choice.

However, iPods aren't cheap. Even the Shuffle starts at $50, has very limited capacity, and doesn't show the kids what they are listening to. So now we have a couple of problems. We could skip the mp3 players entirely and simply plug headphones into the existing computers, but that prevents kids from working with the audiobooks at home.

We also need an mp3 player that is cost-effective yet can function well in a Mac environment. Obviously there are plenty of cheap mp3 players out there, but most are Windows or Linux compatible. They have largely ceded the Mac market to the iPod, not surprisingly.

So what is the best platform? We can't simply stream the content so students can access it at home or school since the copyright cops would be after us and we can't count on ubiquitous Internet access yet for our students. Used iPods might make sense, but it's hard to get someone on eBay to take a purchase order.

What has worked well for you? I know there are solid tech solutions out there for our auditory learners. Share what you've done and let us know what hasn't worked either.