Today's Apple event about education was certainly no joke.
iTunes U, an education tool for instructors and students, has been made into an iOS application that works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. The application is capable of audio, books, video, and more - all depending on what an instructor might need to distribute to teach a course. This makes it easy for instructors (college, K-12, or universities) to hand out audio and video lectures so that students can learn on the go without being stuffed into a classroom to take a course. The best part is that the application is free. You'd be hard-pressed to find a course in real life for free, though.
iTunes U is a great way to organize your assignments. If your instructor permits the use of iTunes U, then you will find that it contains a list of assignments for you that you can check off after completed. It's great for keeping a daily planner of your work and staying on time with due dates. Additionally, if the instructor needs to get in touch of their students for any reason, iTunes U allows them to send out a message and all of the students enrolled in the course will get a notification from the iTunes U application that will display the updated message. This makes it easy for the course to be changed on the fly without excuses for work not being done.
Since iTunes U is integrated with support for iCloud and iBooks, you can use textbooks from iBooks to do your work in iTunes U and you can use iCloud to save any documents that you might make on the fly with Apple's mobile iWork suite. Additionally, any changes that you make on one device with iTunes U, is instantly updated on all of the rest of your iDevices with iTunes U installed. The integration from application to application is seamless and it's a truly elegant mobile education experience. iOS 5's multitasking makes it a breeze to switch from application to application so that you can get your work done in a jiffy. This integration is especially good new with the news that iBooks 2 has been launched
today with more gestures and actions that can be performed in the ebooks. Even better, the new iBooks Author application would let an instructor make an ebook for a specific course to share with the students.
According to Apple's Web site
, iTunes U supports all of the following things: audio and video, presentations, documents, PDFs, iBooks textbooks for iPad, ePub books, iOS apps, and Web links. Imagine what you could be doing on your iDevice - then end the day with an A in the course. (If only there were grades when you were teaching yourself though, right?)
iTunes U is supported in 26 different countries. If you're considering enrolling with iTunes U as a way to educate yourself, then take into consideration that you're not limited to the iDevice. iTunes U is also available through iTunes on your Mac or PC. Some very good institutions use iTunes U, such as: Duke, Oxford, Stanford, UC Berkley, and Yale.
Once you open the iTunes U application for the first time, you will see an interface that is extremely similar to you if you have ever used iBooks on an iDevice before. You will see that same signature bookshelf look that Apple includes in their iBooks application, the only difference being that it's stained a different color. It's a darker brown. You will see that there are two buttons at the top of the window (see image above) one being catalog and the other being edit. The catalog button will bring you to the iTunes store where you can browse for courses and they show you the institutions that they are from as well. The edit button of course lets you edit or remove courses - as you would expect from the edit button in iOS.
The pros and cons of using iTunes U are simple. Pros: there are tons of free courses; you can really give yourself a good education in a field just by studying long and hard. There are a lot of resources that you can use to educate yourself. You can take it anywhere that you go without being confined to a classroom. Cons: do you really want to do all of that work on a little iPhone screen? I would recommend at least an iPad. If you are teaching yourself the material you either might or might not understand it. If you have a problem with your iDevice and have to restore it but forgot to back up, you may have to redo everything or redownload it.
We really think that Apple is making education a whole new playing field. Don't you just wish you had these resources when you were a kid? Will you be checking out the new iTunes U application? Share in the comments.
Sources: App Store