iTunes U and Me

July 27, 2012

A few days ago Apple/ iTunes U announced that it had opened its course development process in a way that is intended to encourage anyone to develop a small number of personal courses without any institutional verification. I’ve been working on a contract to rework some K-12 pro-D for delivery on iTunes U, so this has been of special interest to me.

It’s an important change that’s described in several places:

The iTunes announcement refers to private courses – ones that won’t appear in the catalogue. That’s the opposite to the work I’m doing, where it’s hoped that many people will find our content through searches of the iTunes collections (which are different than courses).

It appears that students will access the private courses via direct links — and iTunes courses can only be accessed via an iOS5 device. For those of you who have explored iTunes U via iTunes on your computer, it’s important to understand that when you access content in iTunes on your computer it is from a collection, not a course. There’s definitely room for confusion here!

I recommend that anyone considering developing iTunes U courses (or collections) should spend some time looking through existing courses and collections to get a sense of how the environments work and how they differ from the idea of an LMS (learning management system like Moodle). iTunes courses now offer searching, sharing and other features — but don’t expect discussion forums or student assessment tools. It’s really about content delivery.

I’d love to communicate (via this blog) with anybody who’s planning to try this.

Here are some links I’ve found recently, relating to iTunes U and some of the issues you might encounter if you’re developing content.

iTunes U General information:

Are universities reluctant to use iTunes U?
Summary: Is iTunes U a viable platform for school systems to implement?

Charlie Osborne for iGeneration, May 5, 2012
Five things that could make Apple’s new iTunes U a winner
iTunes U may seem like an afterthought, but it could be the glue that holds Apple’s educational concept together.

Scott Stein January 19, 2012
Driving the Classroom with iTunes U
FEBRUARY 19, 2012

Resources related to having educators to create their own iTunes U courses or collections

Focus on Search Engine Issues (obviously not applicable to the private courses):

The enigma of the iTunes app search algorithm
Andrew Cohen, 11/28/2011

What factors does the search algorithm for the iTunes App Store take into account? Does it place a higher priority on keywords, description, etc? Shane Kittelson, 2011

Alternatives to iTunes U
Massive online learning and the unbundling of undergraduate education

How curation tools can enhance academic practice

Ning’s new mobile version (for smartphones)


iPad and Mobile Learning

January 27, 2010

About a gazillion people have shared their thoughts online today about the iPad. Lots of emotion about this and I’m thinking about the reasons why….   to me the range of opinions is reflecting something pretty deep about Apple’s role. Somehow I doubt that these extreme reactions would exist if any other company brought out a larger modified “phone” or a smaller modified “laptop” (I’m not saying that the iPad is either of those, but those kinds of comments are out there). Interesting. And the issues of copyright/ownership of content etc. (do I own this downloaded book or is it rented to me?) are going to take some time to resolve.

But much more interesting is that this device (and those that will follow it) takes us to a next level for mobile learning opportunities. Will educators jump on board? Are we now at the time when the old “just in case” model of education really does get replaced by an understanding that truly portable devices are now pretty full-featured and (see the CBC Spark interview link below) easy to use and blazingly fast, so learning can become “just in time, just enough, just for me“. And the important skills will be how to find, filter and use information. Not a new idea at all but still one that doesn’t seem to have permeated as much as it should. Maybe an idea that finally cannot be ignored?

So what would the education/training world look like if this great access is within reach wherever we are?

Problem solving of all types, on-the-job assistance, sharing knowledge and skills (and/or demonstrating them for “assessment” purposes) — these are just a few things that leap to my mind as potentially transformed. With this next level of connection, the changes in how we do things involving information could really be quite profound.

Are we changing the paradigm of human-computer interaction?