The first and likely most exciting benefit of iTunes U is the multitude of incredible classroom resources at your disposal. If you aren’t aware of iTunes U, it’s a depository of entire courses of educational content for K-12 institutions, universities and colleges, and other institutions Apple terms Beyond Campus, which includes a wide array of institutions from museums to the Washington National Opera. When I think of the potential of iTunes U, the first thing that comes to my mind are the incredible communities that developed around SMART board users. The benefits of SMART board users sharing their lessons for the benefit of other SMART board users are numerous. It appears to me that iTunes U is based on a similar concept, with the primary difference being that the power and capabilities of an iPad are so much greater than a SMART board.
An important consideration to think about is that the individuals creating these courses are cutting edge classroom teachers. These are individuals that are actually in the classroom using the iPad and web 2.0 resources to engage, motivate and captivate our students. Those of us in the trenches of education understand that there is a benefit in obtaining resources from others in the trenches who are actually using the tools for the same reasons we are. A quick search of the iTunes U catalog reveals many incredible courses full of engaging educational materials and resources. I believe it is through avenues like iTunes U that schools will learn to help our students see learning in new and exciting ways while at the same time opening our classrooms and homes to a wide array of exciting new educational opportunities.
I would love to take a minute to highlight a few courses that I am extremely proud. We have some teachers in our school district learning to use iTunes U and what they have produced in these early stages is very encouraging. Check out the attached links to some of our Boyne City Public Schools iTunes U courses.
Students begin this unit by researching the Solar System with an emphasis on Earth, Sun, and Moon. Then, students are presented with primary and secondary sources regarding the Solar System. Students demonstrate what they have learned by collaborating with each other to create an ePub about the Solar System.
Students will journey through books, videos, songs and illustrations to gain a better understanding of Ecosystems Around the World.
Students begin this unit by learning about the Underground Railroad. Next, they explore videos, apps, and books that expand their knowledge about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Finally, students write an opinion piece about slavery.
Your job is to learn more about presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama. Next you will investigate what the Electoral College is and why it is important when campaigning to be president. Finally share, in your Keynote, all of your new knowledge of how to become Chief Executive Officer of the United States.
This course is intended for teachers and administrators to learn how to manage a class or set of classes through iTunes U. The course covers the basics of setting up a course in iTunes U and adding content to it.
Here's the idea. There are a lot of great ideas out there, and we would love to share them all with you. You have started this website as a way to get the information out to as many as possible in a fun, exciting format. Each week we’ll do our best to focus on one concept or one idea. The beauty is for people throughout the district to connect and share these ideas that are presented here.
One of the things I like most about providing iPads to all students is that for the first time in my educational career I feel we have made a significant impact on evening the playing field for all students. Now, all students have the same access to educational resources and materials. iTunes U goes a long way in assisting schools in creating this balanced playing field because all of the course materials and resources can be downloaded to the iPad at school while the students are connected to wifi. This includes books, PDF’s, Videos, Music, basically any resource provided in the course can be downloaded to the iPad and accessed any time or any place whether or not the student has internet access at home.
Wherever you are in your voyage of implementing iPads into the classroom, I would strongly encourage you to give iTunes U a look. You can search for resources by course type or keyword. Just one more place to get you lost for a little while as you look for new and exciting activities to use not only with your students, but for your own personal learning as well.
Fred Z. Sitkins
Elementary School Principal
Boyne City, MI