Audio cassette tapes in the classroom

Last week I posted a message about the utilization of new media on primary/elementary schools. I then thought of some reasons why the usage of internet and computers is still relatively small. After speaking with some teachers, I found out there are at least two other good reasons:

1) Money. Let’s face it, although governments all over the world claim that they want to invest more in education, most schools just don’t have the money for computers. Often schools rely on volunteers that can organise IT related matters for them.

2) Change can be hard. A lot of teachers have been doing their own ‘thing’ for years, repeating the same stuff every schoolyear. They feel comfortable with it, and also the lack of time prevents them from working with computers and discovering ‘new media’.

A great example of these reasons in real life is the usage of audio cassette tapes in classrooms. Yes, audio cassette tapes, they are still being used!  While most consumers threw out their cassette recorders somewhere in the late Eighties, schools and teachers are still relying on them heavily.

Is there no money for cd players, or is it that teachers don’t know how cd or mp3 players work? Didn’t anyone explain them what streaming media is? Or aren’t new teachers trained in these things on graduate schools and universities?


I really don’t know what the reason is. What I do know by now, is where the term oldschool comes from 😉

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  1. We are facing a similar problem at the school where I work. While it’s true that CDs “contain ” much more info than tapes, it is sometimes easier to rewind the tape than replaying the whole cd to listen to a specific piece when the CD doesn’t have tracks (it happened to me more than once) . Sometimes the lens from cd players becomes dirty quite soon , preventing you from listening what you had planned to!

  2. I have tons of wonderful books on tape that I don’t want to get rid of. I could try to find the CD’s for them, but that is very time consuming and expensive. As long as the tapes work, I don’t want to just throw them out. I am confident most teachers know how to use a CD player, they just have a great collection of books on tape like I do.

  3. I teach preschool and have found in my setting cassette tapes are much more durable. The children can use them on their own and I don’t have to worry about damage. Plus it would be very expensive for me to purchase all the material again. As they wear out I do replace them with CD’s. But for now I will continue to use cassettes. Julie

  4. I found the comment about “oldschool” a little insulting. What’s wrong with continuing to use something if it meets a need in the classroom without spending more money? I love that my K5students can use the tape recorder themselves. They love the collection of tapes that I have that I would not be able to provide them with if I had to spend money to update the collection. I don’t know why the perception is that oldschool means that something is not worthy….

  5. Audiotapes still have the place in the class because their portable and relatively inexpensive. All the information is contain and don’t require many bells and whistles that new media offer. I think that teachers would be willing to use more streaming media; however, those funds tend to be regulated to upper administration and training only to the tech support team.

  6. I think that all these reasons for teachers not being technically up to date make sense. I think they should become more up to date when time and money permit. As long as the audio cassette tapes are still presenting information that is correct and applies to their lesson I see nothing wrong with using them.

  7. I feel that teachers especially “old school” teachers are stuck in their ways. They are used to the old methods of instruction and since this works for them, they feel there is no need to learn something new. In many cases, money is a serious issue, especially during these economical times, but a teacher has to be willing to change. If they do not want to do this for their own knowledge, it is not fair for the students growing in a world where technology is taking over.

  8. I think its ot such a bad idea that teachers stil use this older form of technology. I think its important for all educators to educate themselves on all resources availible to them but I also believe that as educators we do have to learn to utilize what we can when those same sources are limited.

  9. I feel there is nothing wrong with using audiotapes in the classroom. You are able to maintain the same information found on CD’s but I feel audiotapes last longer and you dont have to worry about spending more money because the way they are played as not changed versus the player for CD’s and Mp3 files. Students and teachers need to be able to adapt ot different forms of media in case something goes wrong with the newer forms of technology.

  10. I think it’s great to have the newest technology in the classrooms, but I also think it’s great to have older forms of technology in the classrooms, too.

    If a teacher already has some form of technology in her room and can still use it, why throw it out? It is cheaper to use audio cassettes that you already have or might find at a yard sale, than to invest in a new collection of cd’s. Also, with tapes, you don’t have to worry about scratches and skipping. Or if the power goes out, you don’t have to start all over again on the tape. All you have to do is push play when the power comes back on and it is right where you left off. Also, it seems that tapes have more quality as far as durability goes. I still have tapes from 10-13 years ago that work just fine, but some cd’s that I’ve only had for a few years skip and I can’t listen to anything on the cd.

    However, I do think that while it’s okay to still use older forms of technology, teachers should know how to use newer forms of technology, too.

  11. Since many of the CD’s that I used in preschool began having missed places or they stuck in one part, I like the audio cassettes as well as the CD’s, if not more. My Alvin and the Chipmunks CD already has a place in it where it sticks. I bought a nature audiocassette in Gallatinburg, and it still works perfectly. Birds chirp and there is a flute that plays. It still sounds as good as it did when I bought it. I think teachers should know how to use different media. However, I would not throw away audiocassette tapes that worked well.

  12. I dont necessarily think that any kind of technology has to be up-to-date to have an educational impact. I realize that students should be equipped with the knowledge of modern technology but their is nothing wrong with using caseete tapes. I think to the generation coming up casette tapes may be completely foreign to them so it would be neat to show them what we used to use and teach them about the old technology. Lets face it, with myspace, facebook, webkinz and so many other social networks, students have become more tech savy than us teachers anyways. Maybe it would be neat to look back at the old technology for a change.

  13. It is true that the availability of money may come into play when preparing a classroom, and many times, what is contained in a classroom is bought using the teacher’s personal money, not the schools. If educators have on hand books, speeches, or anything else on tape that can add to a lesson, it is a waste of a valuable resource to throw it out, just because some consider it “old school.”
    Like others have posted, I have many audio cassettes of children’s books stored away that would be an wonderful addition to a reading/listening learning station, and I certainly plan on using them when I do have a classroom of my own. Also, tapes are a lot more durable and, possibly easier to use, especially in younger classrooms. I think it would be easier, or at least as easy, for a student to open a tape deck and pop a tape in, than to push a small button, wait for a tray to come out, and carefully place a CD. Children can be a little rough on tapes, such as sliding them on a table, but if a student was to do that with a CD, and was done repeatedly, the CD would become so scratched that it wouldn’t play.
    I think it is insulting to insinuate a teacher’s (or future teacher’s) lack of capability of using newer technologies just because that teacher uses older methods. If old school methods still work, then I’m all for using them. After all, if it’s not broken, why fix it?

  14. Cassette tapes are still used in the classroom because, simply stated, they work. In addition to being relatively inexpensive, cassettes tapes aren’t as fragile as compact discs. Teachers do not have to worry about audio cassettes getting scratched and becoming worthless.

    I believe that using newer technology is wonderful, but sometimes it is not feasible. Lack of money continues to be a major issue in our schools today, especially in individual classrooms. Many times, teachers are left to purchase the items used in his/her classroom. If the cassette tapes are readily available, why not use them? The tapes provide logical coherent information which can be utilized.

    Additionally, some teachers may not be as up-to-date as others. “Didn’t anyone explain them what streaming media is? Or aren’t new teachers trained in these things on graduate schools and universities?” To answer these questions, I cannot recall anyone ever explaining to me what streaming media is nor being trained on how to work an MP3 player. With all the other classes that prepare you to teach, I suppose someone must have completely overlooked the fact that we needed to take a course in working a CD player. Thank you for bringing this up, as I’m sure this class would help us become better educators.

  15. I really think that I will use some old school things in my roonm because in today’s clasrooms there are still cassette players in them. I hope that when I teach I do have a cd player which most rooms do. I also can use my ipod in the classroom. I really hope to have a smartboard for technology things.

  16. I feel audiocassettes can still be useful in classrooms. I don’t understand why a teacher would want to spend more money on CD’s if the audiocassettes are still working fine. That money can be used elsewhere to buy things for the classroom. I understand technology is advancing; however, the information can still be useful on cassettes. There are plenty of things I would to have for my classroom to be “advanced,” but I don’t see the need in spending money you don’t have to if you’re providing the same learning experience.

  17. As a college student, I have only observed other teachers and their resources. Money plays a huge role in what each school has to use in the way of technology. The third grade class I am observing now uses a tape recorder to listen to stories from their reading book read to them. Part of learning how to read is hearing words pronounced properly, so you know how to pronounce them yourself. Yes, this can be done with CDs or digital audio, but when funds are tight, you use what’s available. The children are learning and that is the point.

  18. It is not a teacher thing, it is a people thing. People tend to not like change until they are familiar with it. As long as teachers can get a way with doing everything on paper, they will never use a computer. As long as audio cassette tapes are available, then there is no use for a cd player. Yes teachers should stay current with time so that they can communicate with the students. You have to be committeed to being a life long learner to be an effictive teacher. If you don’t know how to use a IPOD, how will you know if your students are cheating on their test. Technology is good tool to have and the know how to use it is even greater tool.

  19. I believe that audio cassette tapes can still be beneficial for learning. Even though they may not be up to date with technology, cassette tapes still have useful and important information on them.
    It is true that money is an issue for teachers and schools. Audio cassette tapes are probably already present in the classroom. This prevents the teacher from having to buy new items. They can just use the resources that are at their finger tips and inexpensive or free. Either way students are learning, whether or not it comes from an audio cassette tape or an MP3 player.

  20. In my opinion, if it’s not broke then don’t try fixing it. Learning doesn’t have to come with an expensive price tag, or “the best of the best”. If teachers are using tape cassette’s in the classroom for example:reading along with a book, wouldn’t a cd/cd player do the exact same thing? I just think that resources all are valuable, and as one teacher mentioned above, cassette’s are even more durable for the students’ to use than the cd’s.

  21. I think that tapes in classroom area important factor today, because like the article mentioned, they are cheap and easy to use. Many of the teachers that have been teaching for a while don’t like the change and some find it hard to work. This is because the teacher is left to learn on their own about technology. The tapes provide a learning experience for the students that is effortless for the teacher, while provides a new face of teaching.

  22. I really believe that if cassettes (or whatever other “old school” resources) are available and work, they can still be used in a classroom. I personally wouldn’t go out and spend money that I as a teacher don’t have just for the sake of being technologically up-to-date. Furthermore, the boards of education across the country don’t have the resources to allow teachers to do this.

    I’ve been in many classrooms where cassette tapes are used, and serve the classroom just as well as a CD or mp3 file would. In my opinion, cassette tapes will work better for me as a teacher. They are still available and function. Cassettes are much more durable because even if the tape inside them unwinds, you can just wind it back and more than likely it’s still going to give you the same performance. With CDs, they can get a few scratches on them and a complete track may become worthless. mp3 players are great because they are modern and sleek, but not really practical for use in the classroom. Little hands could probably ruin the spinning button on an iPod easily, and let’s face it that those things can be money pits. You need warranties and protection plans to even speak to a customer service representative, and then getting a replacement is another cost. Not to mention buying the files to load onto it, and a computer is a must for downloading. The ease of access with other technology is not nearly as true with other technology as it is with the cassette for me.

  23. I am a college student as well. I agree that the used of new technologies in the classroom would be extremely beneficial. The use of old technologies, like audio casette tapes, is still a good idea. Like the article mentions, they are cheap, easliy accessible, and durable. Durability is especially important for use in the classrooms with younger students who do not necessarily know how to take care of their things. The 5th grade class that I am observing still used audio tapes to listen to stories and read along. I think that audio tapes are still realiable learning tools.

  24. Have you ever heard the saying “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”? Well that is kind of how I feel regarding using cassette tapes in schools. Why would you want to waste funding on updating things you already have. When they break then it would be wise to replace them with updated versions such audio versions that can be saved on a computer. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is important for teachers to include Technology in their lessons but they should also use any and all resources available to them. Since schools do not get enough funding as it is, it is very important to spend that money wisely on things the school does not have and needs.

  25. I think that if something has proven to be beneficial to the learning of students in your classroom and is an asset to your lesson, it should not matter how up-to-date the technology is. I remember having several teachers using old audio tapes and even older projection videos and I never thought that they were too “oldschool” for me.
    I think that as long as the cassette tapes are working, present the information well, and keep the student’s interest then they should continue to be used.

  26. Audio Cassettes and other older technologies are still in high demand in our schools today. There are a number of reasons for this.

    I do believe that it is in part because many of the teachers have grown accustomed to using these devices. However, that does not mean that teachers are not willing to use the new technologies that are available.

    Thanks to a suffering economy many schools have had to cut many staff members and programs from their schools. That being said…there is often not enough money left to use on new technology.

    Another major issue with using new technology for teachers is that they are very rarely adeqautely trained to use the devices, and they do not feel comfortable using it. Often times an inservice is scheduled and someone who is familiar with the device gives a demonstration.

    I think that it is a shame that the schools systems do not find a way to fund the new technologies and proper training for teachers on these devices. Although the older technologies are helpful; there are so many new technology devices that do so much more, and are more effective.

  27. Alot of times, there are some teachers in the school that aren’t up to date with “current” and “new” technology, and then there are some teachers who are aware of new technology. However the funds are not available, so teachers are being limited of what can be used to assist instruction. Audio tapes are still effective in the classroom, and should still be used. I do think teachers should be trained on using “inexpensive” technolgy strategies to keep the classroom materials “up to date.”

  28. i think the best answer to why teacher’s havent updated their media tools is EASE. there arent many “user issues” that a #2 pencil and finger cant solve when using a cassette. aside from fastforwarding and rewinding to find the track or place youre looking for, its relatively simple to use and maintain.
    cost is another factor. cassettes are extremely costs friendly while mp3’s can run 100’s of dollars.
    while most people own a personal iPod or mp3 to bring such an expensive piece into the classroom is one most people would hesistate to take.
    lastly, honestly, its a matter of laziness. while it doesnt take much to look up and utilize new media and technology some teachers either lack the drive, being comfortable in the current state of media, or they truly are too busy to update and transfer their current tools to new mediums.

  29. In my opinion I think that tapes will always have a place in the classroom as long as money is an issue. For younger students it seems great that they are able to handle and operate the tapes instead of the teacher doing it for them. The cds are nice and convient but only for the teachers. And it is the students that need the experience and exposure of independance and learning.

  30. Cassetes work and they last a long time. MP3s and Cds are not the litmus for technological savvy. Also, even after several years tapes sound better than MP3s. I am all for using more technology in the classroom, but in this case we are talking about playing audio and tapes are just fine for that.

  31. Audio cassette tapes are still used in schools due to budgets and older generation teachers. There will always be a place for older types of teaching materials. I grew up with audio cassette tapes. They are easy to use with easy buttons that are simple and self explanatory. Younger generations would benefit from audio cassette tapes through finding other options when CDs or MP3 players are not always available.

  32. I think that teachers will have to rely on old school techniques to a certain extent. It really depends on how fluent the teacher is with new media. If the teacher does not have a lot of experience with new technology then he or she will have to rely on old school techniques to educate their students. Is there a way for teachers to become educated on new media? Yes, of course there is. Will teachers have to educate themselves on new media by conducting individual research and attending workshops on technology? Most likely they will. Money is definitely a factor when it comes to moving into a new direction with technology in education. However, if the school does not have the funding for computers and other multimedia materials, teachers will have to rely on old school techniques to educate their students. Especially if teachers do cannot afford to buy multimedia materials and computers on his or her budget or income. I do not feel that all old school techniques are bad. I think it is very important for teachers to blend old school techniques with new ones in order to create a healthy balance for the student. I also feel that although old school techniques are still being used that what is most important is the message that is being revealed to the students. If an old audio cassette tape is being used that has good content and a great message that will help students to learn then by all means use it! However, I do feel that teachers should also try to the best of their ability to meet students halfway with technology because these generations as well as the generations to follow are technologically savvy and need to be engaged.

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