Many people prefer to have the most up to date device, but the average user may be unaware of what that old phone can do in the classroom.
That dawned on Trevor Hope, the coordinator of instructional technology at Hawthorn Elementary District 73, after noticing his 2-year-old twins liked to play with his old iPhone.
Hope said he thought about loading apps geared to toddlers on the earlier version when a broader potential use came to mind.
"Then I thought, why couldn't we do this at school in the classroom?" So he decided to try something different at work.
Hope figured there were enough old phones sitting unused in drawers to be useful to students and teachers. A quick Internet search yielded iPhone Classroom, which to Hope meant others had the same idea.
The result is a new program in which District 73 parents are being asked for their old iPhones and iPods. After being wiped of data and having the SIM card removed, the devices will be loaded with educational apps for the classroom at little or no cost to the district.
"This just enhances what we have now," Hope said.
While there are laptops in the classrooms, it is not a one-to-one ratio and some classrooms don't have much technology.
Essentially, an old iPhones can be made into an iPod touch, Hope said, and loaded with many educational applications such as video cameras and editing stations digital portfolios, audio recorders, and other uses. Teachers also can request specialized applications, such as phonics.
In an ideal setting, everyone in a classroom would have a refurbished phone to use. But a more practical idea may be to have enough for a group of kids in a given class. While one group is working with the phones, other groups may be pursuing other studies, for example.
Phones can be dropped off at any of the Vernon Hills-based district's schools or the administrative office. Visit www.hawthorn73.org. The donation is tax-deductible.
As the program began in recent weeks, there have been few donations. But with the newest version of the iPhone becoming more widely available, Hope says there may be another wave of old devices coming.
"I don't expect to get hundreds of them but whatever positive impact we can have in the classroom, we're thrilled with that," he said.