I have joked that I would marry my IPhone if I could. I love it more than any other material good (and probably more than most of my family members–just teasing, Mom). Reminiscent of the sage Jerry Maguire , my IPhone ”completes me.” While there are many great things that an IPhone can bring to your life (or any Apple product for that matter), one of the best has to be ITunes…but not just the standard “I want to download music and episodes of Saturday Night Live ITunes.” The “I want to be smarter and learn about the ways of the world” ITunes. Have no fear; there is a way to leave the ITunes Store with an increase in your IQ and without a decrease in your wallet. It is known as ITunes U, a website found in the ITunes store that offers educational materials for learners of all ages. Apple markets the site as a “powerful distribution system for everything from lectures to language lessons, films to labs, audiobooks to tours.”
For a regular person, ITunes U is nice place to learn about obscure topics. For a teacher, ITunes U is a goldmine of information. Many elite colleges (like Harvard, UPenn, MIT, and Stanford) have posted information to be accessed by the general public, offering an ivy-league education for free.
ITunes U is accessed through the ITunes Store and you must have an Apple account to download materials. However, an Apple account is still worthwhile to even if you don’t have an IPod or IPhone. One perk for teachers is that it is like youtube for smart people. While youtube has a variety of materials, it is often blocked for use in many districts, leaving teachers stranded when trying to entertain students to the idea of photosynthesis. ITunes is not typically blocked, allowing teachers to show clips to their students directly from their account. ITunes U is like creating your own personal youtube account that can be accessed in the classroom. But ITunes U is better than youtube for many reasons, the most important of which is the quality. The educational value of the material in ITunes U is paramount to youtube. It is more scholarly than youtube, more relevant than youtube, and the material is provided by highly academic sources, not just students uploading their English project for friends to view it. Next time you want to show a clip to your friends about dancing cats check out youtube. Next time you want to show a clip to your students about the Revolutionary War check out ITunes U.
Once you have created an Apple account and downloaded ITunes it is fairly easy to locate ITunes U. In my particular version ITunes U appears as a link in the top toolbar alongside “music,” “movies,” “tv shows,” “app store,” etc.
Click on this and tinker around ITunes U today while sitting around watching Ohio State play Colorado. You can look at programs offered from specific universities or browse topics while hovering your mouse over “ITunes U.”
Either way you are bound to spend hours perusing all of the amazing learning tools provided. Tomorrow I am going to profile some of my favorite sites on ITunes U and how you can use these in the classroom. Happy surfing.