Monday, March 11, 2013

The Benefits of iTunes U

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently, Apple announced that their iTunes U had passed 1 billion downloads. Despite this milestone, there are still many people who are simply unaware of all of the information available to them on iTunes U. The goal of this program is to allow teachers and all types of students, young and old, to more easily access educational resources. These resources can be in any form, such as audio files, digital eBooks, and more. As such a perfect medium for helping to distribute educational resources, it has not reached many of the teachers and students who could really use it. So how exactly could more people utilize this amazing resource?

First, teachers and professors could begin to assign homework assignments around some of the free resources available on iTunes U. One example of this would be for students to download lectures or podcasts from the site, then listen to these audio files. Class assignments and even tests could address certain topics brought up in these resources. Also, students can listen to the opinions expressed in these resources and respond to them with opinions of their own. This will allow students to develop skills in listening to other's ideas, then formulating and expressing their own ideas on certain topics and issues. In addition to this, students will also have a good time listening to different podcasts, all while learning at the same time. Plus, these podcasts and lectures can be listened to wherever students go. Therefore, students can be learning as they're working out at the gym or in their cars commuting to work or school.

In addition to these available audio files, students and teachers can utilize the ability to post and download testing material. This allows teachers to assign online quizzes to be downloaded and completed for credit in class. If teachers do not want to use the posted test material online for class credit, students can even use it for their own purposes. For example, students can quiz themselves using iTunes U when studying for tests. This will give students a better understanding of the material. Plus, students may even end up learning more as they check their answers to the online test questions and learn new material provided by other education professionals who posted the tests.

iTunes U is also available to use for students as young as kindergarten and up. Therefore, even grade school teachers can pass the benefits of this program on to their class. Teachers can download and share videos and lab demos with their classes. This allows students and teachers to utilize all of the free benefits of iTunes U, while actively learning and interacting with the material they are studying in class. Teachers could even assign videos to watch at home, so class time is better utilized and homework isn't boring.

While iTunes U is widely unknown by many of the people who could benefit from it, the recent 1 billion download milestone is step in the right direction. We can hope to see more of the podcasts, lectures, videos, lab demos, and more available to students online in the classrooms of America. This will allow for more comprehensive studying and interesting homework assignments for students at all ages. Hopefully, we can see Apple hitting their next 2 billion download mark with iTunes U much quicker than their first 1 billion download milestone.

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