Mobile Learning and iTunes U – Thinking outside the classroom
Learning no longer happens only in the classroom. Students demand constant access to information and knowledge, no matter where they are. As a contribution to this, academic institutions are beginning to use iTunes U sites to distribute digital lessons to their students. This is the pioneer concept developed by Apple. However, we are waiting for others to follow up with their version of this, as more gadgets are being able to perform same things as iPhone and iPodTouch products are. However, learning from what Apple has done so far and offer the public of services and possibilities, makes it interesting to see how academic institutions have approached this concept and what their experience is with it so far.
First a little about Mobile Learning
Students are already coming to school with portable computers and devices such as an iPhone and iPod in their hand. So they’re used to gathering information on the web, getting their email, watching lectures, getting directions, or pinpointing exactly where their friends are — anytime and anywhere.
Now they can learn anytime and anywhere, too. As educators all over the world are discovering, mobile learning works. Students devour engaging, customized curricula when it’s delivered on the iPod or iPhone. It’s a familiar and essential part of their lives. Audio and video podcasts let students study at their own pace, wherever and whenever they want.
Then how Apple Makes Mobile Learning Happen
From portable computers and mobile devices to software and servers to iTunes U, Apple makes all the technology you need to make mobile learning a reality for your students.
Teachers are using iLife and iWork applications on the Mac to create customized educational materials, such as language lessons that students can listen to outside the classrooms. With the help of Podcast Producer and Wiki Server — both of which come with Mac OS X Server — IT department at the academic institution can help produce and distribute all kinds of multimedia content on iTunes U or a class wiki. Once the classroom presentations and lectures have been captured and published, students can download them from iTunes. Then they can transfer them to iPod or iPhone and take it all with them. And suddenly, any place can be a place to learn.
Concept from Apple is either Internal iTunes U Site
If you want to allow access only to members of your institution, you can host your own password-protected iTunes U site. This enables you to create and manage the content available on the site, while controlling who can access and download resources from it.
Because administrative access is integrated with Apple ID, it’s easy to set up and manage your site, and you can add more Apple ID accounts to share site management responsibilities. Or you can integrate with your identity management systems to scale out management and access to hundreds or thousands of users. By default, iTunes U supports Shibboleth (the standards-based, open source authentication system), or you can create customized transfer scripts to integrate with popular authentication systems, including Kerberos, LDAP, Active Directory, and others. Apple also provides templates you can customize with your own branding, and you can use tools such as RSS to easily add and remove content. To ensure compatibility, the media you provide should be in: AAC, MP3, MPEG-4, or PDF format.
Apple also offer the opportunity to make External iTunes U Site
You also have the option of making your course material available to all iTunes visitors — alongside content created by other institutions. External sites are also a great recruitment tool, offering an inexpensive way to explain the benefits your institution has to offer. With an open iTunes U presence, your institution will gain recognition, and a competitive edge, as you reach out and share your knowledge with the world. Media should be in AAC, MP3, MPEG-4, or PDF format. As with internal sites, administrative access is controlled via Apple ID, and you can add more accounts to share site management responsibilities. Apple templates let you incorporate your own branding, and you can request browse/search integration to make it easier for visitors to find your content on iTunes and to extend the reach of the content you post. External iTunes U sites are not just available to universities. Many museums, public broadcasting stations, and state education organizations also make education content available to the world through iTunes U in the iTunes Store.
Some academic institutions have made a Mix of Both
Many schools choose to create both an internal site with a greater amount of course materials available exclusively to enrolled students with a user account and password; and an external site that provides a publicly accessible subset of those resources.
Some Examples of Academic Institutions present with their iTunes U sites
Carnegie Mellon University
WGBH/PBS- teachers domain
What we notice, is that most institutions made this available to public are in the U.S.A. However, there are other institutions other places around the globe that has taken this concept into their arms. We will cover this in another article later.
(Most material is taken from Apple web page, which is referred to for more details).