This past year I had the good fortune of becoming an ADE Class of 2013. Prior to attending the ADE institute in Texas in July I had dabbled a bit in iTunes U and thrown up a course structure. However while at the institute in Texas I attended an Advanced iTunes University workshop, which really got my wheels turning. Once I returned from the institute my district finally established a public presence within the iTunes University K-12 section. Last night I had the good fortune of presenting my district’s presence in iTunes U to the Board of Education. The experience made me reflect upon how much the iTunes University platform has improved my practice as an educator. Here are five reasons why…
1- The ability to collaborate with others- iTunes U has recently added a feature where up to five educators can collaborate on the same course. The opportunities to extend teaching and learning with these features are tremendous. I have already begun conversations with colleagues within my building about working together on a course. Also, I envision the opportunity to collaborate with teachers in my PLN also exists. One other idea I had was the notion of allowing students to create their own courses collaboratively within their own Apple ID’s – talk about flipping the classroom.
2- Workflow-Workflow-Workflow- I love how the iTunes U course manager allows me to embed my students apps right into the course. This really helps things from a workflow perspective. If I want my students to make a screencast as part of a course assignment iTunes U opens up Educreations or Explain Everything within the app. If I want my students to submit an assignment to me they can do it through the eBackPack app, which is embedded into my iTunes U course. If I want my students to take an assessment in Socrative, they simply click on the app right within my course. It seems like a simple thing but when you are running a busy iPad one to one classroom, workflow helps you survive.
3- It’s Free- In these days of sparse funding for education it is nice to have a resource for your students that they do not have to pay for all they have to do is subscribe to the course.
4- The Ability to Extend the Physical Classroom- I teach six subjects and I created three courses in iTunes U for the science classes that I teach this summer. I simply will not have the time to complete another three courses in iTunes for the math courses I teach. Does that mean I cannot use iTunes U for math during this school year? No, because I have ADE’s in my PLN from all over the world that have amazing math courses that they have created – my students and I can access their resources simply by subscribing to their classes. I had an ADE who told me that one of the first emails that he got from someone outside of his school that had subscribed to his course was in Chinese. How cool is that? My class is no longer taking place just in New Jersey – we a viewing a screencast from a teacher in California—an augmented reality image from a teacher in Australia. It is a great time to be alive and a great time to be a teacher.
5- The Video Notes Feature-Let’s Flip the Classroom- If I want to discuss the scientific method I can create a video about it and upload it to my course. Then I can have my students view it on their own time. Thanks to the split-screen video note-taking feature you can watch the video and pause it to record any questions that you might have. Then the students will come into class prepared with their video notes and any questions they might have. This is particularly helpful in Advanced Placement classes, which have a lot of content to cover. This extends this learning beyond the school day and the school walls.