iTunes Course Manager

I have been playing around with iTunes Course Manager and I am so excited about the potential applications that it is going to have on my class and beyond. Before I get into the process and my experience with creating a course, I’ll start off by saying that I have always thought that iTunes U was one of the most underused brilliant resources available to teachers. I have worked with people, who I would classify as quite IT savvy, who haven’t  heard of iTunes U at all! This is where things usually get a little awkward as I somehow morph into an almost Evangelical iTunes U fanatic and go on and on with my spiel about “how amazing iTunes U is” and “how there is so much amazing content available literally sitting there waiting to be downloaded and integrated into classrooms. The content ranges in complexity; from Ivy league universities such as Yale, Oxford, Harvard etc to a grade 3 student’s reflection about a ball game they played in PE. It’s awaiting you!” This is roughly about the time that they are backing away from me with a slightly freaked out and bewildered expression on their face…

So back to iTunes U. My tale starts back in 2010. At the time the only issue I had with iTunes U is that after scratching the surface and being completely blown away, I instantly wanted to begin creating and sharing content to my students by creating a school channel or profile. This is where I hit a snag! I couldn’t work out how to apply to become a representative or a content creating organisation. I contacted Apple and found out that Australian Government funded schools could not become content sharing schools, this had to be done through your particular state educational body. In my case, it was The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development  in Victoria. For teachers in Australia, you will understand my dilemma without having to go into detail too much, for those overseas, let me just say that you would be better off trying to train your dog to speak and cook you breakfast rather than have The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development assist you in any way… This was in the days before iTunes Course Manager.

iTunes U Course Manager allows you to create your own media rich courses that are delivered directly onto your students’ iPads. Your students are presented with all of the teaching content, resources such as weblinks, videos, images, apps etc as well as lesson plans and the ability to take detailed lesson notes all within the one neat and well organised place. They are then able to access this information 24/7.

The first thing you need to do is login
Once you have filled in the required online forms, including an instructors bio, you are ready to begin creating your own course.
Your students will also need to download the free iTunes U app on their IOS device.

Before you create a course and start adding content to that course, you must first create a course outline and a course overview. The overview is a brief statement about the course and what it will encompass. The outline can be a list of the different lessons/activities within your course. The outline is needed to structure your course and allows you to create a detailed post fro each item in the course outline.

Students can take detailed notes directly within the iTunes U app

The main body of the course is created in the form of posts. Each post can be allocated within a topic or a part of an entry within the course outline. When you create a new post, you can choose the section in which you want the post to appear. You can then add a lesson overview or instruction for students and attach material such as audio, video, books, documents, apps or images or weblinks. So when a student opens that post, they are presented with your lesson and all of the digital material required for that lesson. They are then able to use a check box to show that they have completed the work set for them. Furthermore, they are able to take detailed lesson notes within the iTunes U app. These lesson notes are automatically categorised for quick and easily reflection.

Courses can be as simple or as detailed as you wish. Once you have finished adding content to your course, you can share your course by creating a unique enrolment code that can be delivered to your students via email as a direct url. Students simply open the email and enrol into the course. An email is then sent to you requesting approval for that student’s enrolment. You can also provide a short, 9 character, code to your students for them to enter in the Enrol form within their iTunes U app should you wish not to choose email as a form of delivery.

As stated above, I am so excited to be creating courses for my students. I love the idea that all of the digital resources that are required for my lessons can be distributed within the one app. More than that, I love the fact that my students will have access to course content on demand. I have started creating a bunch of courses. One of the courses that I created is a beginner’s guide to The Pinnacle Studio app for iPad which is an absolute killer of an app. I will be creating a post solely about this app shortly but for those who wish to join the iTunes U course about this app, simply open the link below on your iPad. Enjoy.