In hopes of possibly expanding its products into schools across the country, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) gave Zune players to high school and middle school students to watch videos and listen to podcasts recommended by their teachers, along with sharing content among their peers, AP reports. Microsoft handed out the devices to roughly 100 Fort Sumner High School students in New Mexico and about 25 South Valley Junior High students in Missouri last winter in exchange for usage data — expected to be more qualitative than quantitative — on how helpful the devices are in the classroom and how they enrich students’ education. The company plans to post a case study on the project following this summer’s National Education Computing Conference.
Teachers who identified 20 downloadable digital lectures related to their lessons and developed five of their own each received a $400 bonus. So far some of them are optimistic about the implementation of Zune in the curriculum, as one Spanish teacher raved that students can take home her lessons to revisit for clarification on pronunciations and vocabulary. Still, others are skeptical that students would truly use the devices for academic purposes. So how are the schools keeping Zune content in check? Aside from “No Zune Zones” teachers can designate, a campus-wide “grandma rule” keeps students from uploading anything their grandmothers wouldn’t, though how this rule is being implemented was unclear.