Weekend Tech: ITunes U Part 2

Yesterday I profiled a teacher treasure:  ITunes U.  A scholarly resource equipped with videos and podcasts that are appropriate for and accessible in classrooms through a teacher’s ITunes account.  Even though ITunes U has material for every discipline (history, religion, art, music, etc.), today I’m going to profile some of my favorite outlets within the site and some ways they can be used in the classroom. These can be found through doing a search in ITunes.


UPenn’s 60 Second Lectures:  During the spring and fall UPenn’s School of Arts and Sciences invites professors to give a guest lecture to the campus on their favorite topics.  However, the professors are limited to sixty seconds.  Imagine summing up a topic as sweeping as the Crusades in one minute while making it witty and enjoyable to the majority.  Not an easy task.  Yet the professors manage to accomplish it with flair and precision.  Even though they are sixty seconds and prepared by ivy league professors, the material is widely accessible to students of all ages and abilities.

There are so many perks to using the 60 Second Lectures in the classroom.  The first is that they are so short.  This means they serve as an excellent hook to a lesson or a way to get students thinking about a topic prior to engaging in it.  Students can easily journal on the issues raised in the video and then connect to curriculum.  I’ve also used a 60 Second Lecture at the end of a unit.  Since the video is a succinct synthesis of material it often asks students to extend their thinking of the topic, providing interesting opportunities for writing.

Some of my favorite 60 Second Lectures are:

“Beyond The Founding Fathers,” when studying literature from the Founding Fathers

“What Makes a Poem a Poem,” when introducing poetry

“Site of Sight, Right of Sight, and Rite of Sight:  Exploring the Cultures of Seeing,” when discussing the purpose of close reading

“Hypocrisy:  How Evolution Guarantees Human Inconsistency,” when discussing dualistic or conflicted characters

Some above are found at the hyperlink above for UPenn and not on iTunes U. 

Literary Concepts Made Easy:  Dr. Michael Mills is an assistant professor of teaching and learning at the University of Central Arkansas.  He has uploaded a series of videos about key literary concepts like point of view, setting, characterization, character types, and symbols and archetypes.  While each video is essentially a powerpoint narrated by the professor, the information is clear and still extensive.  My personal favorite is “Symbols and Archetypes” because of its thorough address of the difference between a symbol and an archetype, something that students often confuse.


Justice with Michael Sandel.  Professor Michael J. Sandel teaches a course about justice, equality, democracy, and citizenship to students at Harvard University.  His course is one that addresses issues raised in many pieces of literature.  While these lectures are well written and highly engaging, they do average 55 minutes, which makes them a little lengthy for a class setting.  However, you can always select 5-10 minutes to show students or assign them to view the video for homework.  The videos bring about really interesting questions about ethical dilemmas, which are commonplace in canonical literature but best used with older students.

Some of my favorites are:

Episode 6-“Mind Your Motive/The Supreme Principle of Morality,” which examine the motivation of why we do what we do.  This video has Hamlet written all over it.



Episode 7-“A Lesson in Lying/A Deal is a Deal,” which examines the nature of lying.  Lying is prevalent in many pieces, but this video has information that might work with Macbeth.

Episode 11-“The Claims of Community/Where Our Loyalties Lie,” which discusses the construction of identity and our obligations to humanity.  This video has portions that would be great for Lord of the Flies.


  1. [...] 60-Second Lectures:  we have posted on these episodes in previous posts; however, they deserve a second look.  They are brief and concise while still asking students to [...]

  2. [...] the songs of summer is to write a speech that defends challenges or qualifies.  You know we love UPENN’s 60-second lectures.  What could be better for a brief end of the year or start to next year.  I often like to ask [...]

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