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Create, Innovate, and Increase Student Access with iTunes U

Create, Innovate, and Increase Student Access with iTunes U

Written by Dan Polleys
April 29, 2013

By Dan Polleys and Rebecca Wildman

Increasingly, schools are equipping every child with technology to support their learning. Schools are shifting from delivering content, to helping students be creators of it. This shift is happening…right now under our feet; many educators don’t even realize that it’s occurring. Many children come to us each day, feeling as though they are missing something. Additionally, concerns have been raised that screen-time has caused students to become withdrawn and alienated from their peers. However, many educators and students find that twenty-first century tools are empowering student voices to be shared with peers from around the world. 

There is a need for schools to change.  With iTunes U, kids can access media-rich content chosen by their teachers.  An amazing component of iTunes U is that no-one is left behind because of limited wi-fi access. iTunes U doesn’t solve all of the challenges associated with educating children. However, it is an extremely powerful tool to enrich the iPad user experience. Educators will still need to model thinking, teach concepts, promote digital citizenship, and provide innovative opportunities with students.

 Image originally uploaded on 2013-04-29 16:06

Here are some questions to consider as educators begin to develop their own courses for children:

1)  How will iTunes U increase access to learning for every child?

2)  How will an iTunes U course enable kids to become creators of their own content?

3)  How will iTunes U enable children to write more frequently and reflect on their own learning throughout?

4)  How might an iTunes U course enable children to become more critical readers with a greater stamina in their reading ability?

Equity and Access

“Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.”

 ~Peter Drucker

With access to great tools such as iTunes U, all students now have the accessibility to content. No longer are students limited by the resources they have at home.  Schools are now able to equip students with the tools needed to be successful in our ever changing world. In iTunes U, teachers are able to download a variety of educational media: books, podcasts, documents, videos, images, presentations, and apps.  

 Here is an example of a poetry iTunes U course (aligned with the CCSS) that was created by a fourth grade teacher:

Click on Course to Download into iTunes U

 Image originally uploaded on 2013-04-29 13:27

Click on Student ePub Book to Download into iBooks

“Teachers who are well informed and effective in their practice can be successful teachers of other teachers as well as partners in educational research, development, and implementation. Collectively, teacher-leaders are our greatest resource for educational reform.”

 ~ National Writing Project

 Educators have been in the “eye” of a tornado of school reform the past few years. So many answers have been offered from folks that have never taught children. With access to the creative tools in iTunes U, teachers can reclaim control of their classrooms. Teachers can pull together powerful resources that meet the needs of the learners they get to know specifically each year. Great educators bring huge amounts of creativity into their classrooms and iTunes U can help facilitate this. Instead of delivering curriculum to children, teachers become creators of curriculum.   

All Children are Writers, Thinkers, and Learners

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

~ Albert Einstein

Brillance, we know it when we see it, especially in our youth. As current school reform efforts move towards STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) we will certainly engage and empower a segment of our student population. And digital tools, as well as a sufficiently trained teaching staff can foster this learning to new levels. When educators create with iTunes U, they are able to develop courses that engage all areas of learning: from art, science, mathematics, history, language, poetry, computer coding, technology, and any other area of interest that a child might have.   

What Educators are Saying about iTunes U

“iTunes U has enabled me to bring learning into the classroom for all children. It has forced me to organize my thinking and to understand that children can learn at their own pace and they don’t need me to be the sage on the stage. I have time to meet with children and help them learn in a more personal way. This was impossible for me before. For me, it has made me look at teaching as a way to teach children to discover and question on their own, not just having me spewing information. It has, not only, gotten me to look at other ways to get information out to children but to guide them to find the information and question for themselves. It has helped me to have children show what they have learned in many different ways other than paper pencil; I am still working on this. (It is hard for an old dog to learn new tricks.) In a nutshell, it has forced me to look to other ways of teaching and assessing and has caused me to grow and change as a teacher. It has made teaching very exciting.” 

Laura Houser

2nd Grade Teacher

Boyne City Elementary School Teacher

“I love using iTunes U in my social studies classroom because it gives all of my students instant access to primary sources that they can analyze and interpret. What used to be a class that included only 1-2 additional resources now can be a teaching moment with multiple resources like pictures, reading, websites devoted to specific content that support their learning based on how they learn best. Doing this allows students to dive so much deeper into content and make personal connections with what they’re studying.”

Erin E. Luckhardt

8th Grade Social Studies Teacher

Boyne City Middle School

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