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Audio Books 2.0

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I received an interesting email from a principal who did a lot of station teaching work for literacy. One of the activities involved children listening to audio books using CD players. However, she has run into a problem in that she is finding it difficult to find anywhere to buy a replacement Discman when one breaks down. (For those of you too young to remember the Discman, it was a portable CD player that was killed off by the iPod in the early 2000s.) So what is the modern equivalent of the Discman? Is it an iPod or are there better alternatives out there?

In a school situation, I think the answer lies in a network drive on a server, a networked computer or a NAS (Network Attached Storage), followed by any device that can read from it. I’m not sure what device that might be but I’m thinking something along the lines of a tablet, smartphone or phablet along with an app that allows media streaming from a network.

thumb-logoOne app that I know is good is called Plex. It allows you to load all of your media onto a server (I think it only works with certain brands of NAS) and then you can access it on any other device such as those above or a laptop or another computer. This means that no matter what type of computer / device is in the room, one can play the audio. For example, a teacher might use their teacher-laptop to play their audio.

For the devices for the stations, I’d look for a decent branded small device less than 7 inches in size. I have been playing around with some Nokia Lumia phablets (half phone, half tablet), which have a 5 inch screen and they seem to be a very good option as they are small and powerful. iPod touches would also be a good option as well as any decent brand of Android tablet.

Plex also allows you to stream video and photographs. It also lets you stream from cloud storage such as Google Drive, which is very handy. Another feature is that it gives you access to a number of online channels such as TED Talks and Vimeo.

Of course, using a tablet or other device gives you further options for Internet access and lots of apps to extend learning.


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