Can the iPad replace a DVD-player?

Yes, but… In my latest project with iPads I use them instead of a DVD-player in the foreign language classroom. We don’t watch a film or parts of it together as a group, but I have chosen different scenes from the film for different groups to watch. We only watched the beginning of the film together and now the groups have to work on individual scenes and present the content of their scenes to the class. This would not have been possible with an ordinary DVD-player or by watching the film with the help of a computer and a projector, because we would have needed as many of these devices (and DVDs) as groups. Now two students share one iPad and use their own earphones. Like this, every student or pair of students respectively, can watch the scenes as often as they need or want to, and they can rewind and fast forward the scenes individually which is not possible if a whole group watches a film.

However, as one aim of this project is to enhance the students’ ability to understand authentic spoken language supported by visual prompts, which is easier for some and rather difficult for others, it would be helpful if the students could easily activate the subtitles if they feel the need for support because the actors speak too fast or if there is a lot of background noise. This is easily done with an ordinary DVD-player where you can (de-) activate subtitles with only a few clicks. On the iPad we have two completely different versions of the film, one with and one without subtitles, which means that students who would like to have the subtitles for a certain scene have to stop the film and switch to the other version and back again. This is more complicated technically and not very practical, so the students decided at the beginning which version they wanted. Almost all of them chose the one with subtitles, because they felt insecure. But I’m sure that many of them can do without the subtitles and would try this out if it were as easily done on the iPad as on a DVD-player. Besides, on some of the iPads the sound quality is rather bad, probably because the devices are too old and don’t work properly anymore.

Overall I’m satisfied with the results so far and the students have enjoyed the method, so I would recommend using iPads for this purpose, but there are still some technical shortcomings.


Author: Jutta Koril

I'm a teacher for English, German and Drama at Lichtenbergschule Kassel.

Leave a Reply