You may have noticed I have become a little obsessed with iTunes U recently. Whilst this obsession hasn’t yet become too serious (relatively I have spent far more time sorting out my fantasy football side this week) it seems to be a problem that is set to stay.
Apple recently announced that anyone with an Apple ID will be able to create courses for sharing, without having to upload them to the iTunes U catalogue as part of a registered institution. This is a pretty big deal for schools.
Previously iTunes U was a place largely reserved for universities where you could readily indulge in a course on pretty much anything, provided it has some suitably complicated content. Whilst publicly – as far as action in the iTunes U catalogue goes – that is likely to remain the case, Apple’s recent announcement opens up a lot of opportunities for schools to make use of iTunes U privately.
iTunes U Course Manager is the tool that allows you to create iTunes U Courses. It is a relatively straightforward web-based tool that allows you to use iTunes U as a course management system; when you update your course in iTunes U Course Manager, it updates (almost) instantly on the students’ devices. The ideal-for-use-with-classes option of creating an in-session course allows your students to access the course in a ‘calendar style’ as assignments are given a selected date.
A successfully created iTunes U provides 24/7 access to all of the required study materials for each course as part of an iPad 1:1 program. As a result, it is an ideal platform for those willing to trial a flipped classroom approach. Create the content you wish to share with your students on the iPad, upload it using iTunes U Course Manager on your PC/Mac, create an assignment, specify a date and test it for yourself. The lesson that follows should benefit hugely from the time saved due to not having explain the new concept(s) in detail from the beginning.
Here’s some help:
As part of my recent obsession with iTunes U, I stuck together a course using iTunes U Course Manager called ‘Creating iTunes U Courses‘. I’ve also stuck the videos that are part of that course on YouTube, although collectively they don’t make much sense without the waffle that precedes them in the course.
Here’s where it needs to go:
iTunes U lacks one huge thing: a social aspect. To be truly effective as a course management system or as part of a flipped classroom, iTunes U needs to integrate discussion and chat facilities as a minimum requirement. Having access to videos and note-taking opportunities galore is great, but by no means a substitute for students learning collaboratively. For now, running courses alongside an Edmodo group appears to be the next best alternative.
Oh, and I would love to see iTunes U Course Manager available in a browser other than Safari. But something tells me that is far less likely to happen.