iTunes U for K12

One of Apple's announcements earlier this year that did not get a lot of attention was that K12 Institutions can now sign up to deliver content in iTunes U.  Most of the attention in January went to the news that textbooks were coming to iBooks and that author software to create your own books would be supported, along with a dedicated iTunes U app, which "bundles" courses in a manageable, multimedia package.

The K12 news could be more of a motivator for change than the textbooks in the K12 space. I can see some teachers creating textbooks, but creating podcasts and support materials for iTunes U will be much easier. In fact, many educators may already have some of those materials created and ready to upload.

Of course, K12 is very different than higher ed - especially when it comes to issues like permissions for using students and student work and the probable "review process" that will be required by a school district.

To get started with iTunes U, K12 school districts, universities, and colleges in 26 countries can start at

Anything New At iTunes U?

Since my last iTunes U post, things have been pretty quiet in there. Colleges continue to add content, but nothing very dramatic has changed. Still, I suspect many of you have not sampled the podcasts in iTunes U. There is certainly a worldwide interest though. I couldn't find any statistics on iTunes U downloads, but just based on the 100,000+ hits on my posts about it here on Serendipity35, I would have to say that the numbers are huge.

The Beyond Campus section has some new content. (You'll need to have the free iTunes installed to view these links.)  There are two local New Jersey offerings there: the Newark Museum and the Liberty Science Center. is a new one. The George Lucas Foundation (also see Edutopia) has a presence now.

I am surprised, but pleased, to see that 5 of 13 sites in the K-12 area are from New Jersey.

In the main universities and colleges section, community colleges are still woefully underrepresented, especially considering the attention and money that is aimed at them this past year by the Obama administration and their rising enrollments sparked by high unemployment.

Want to get a sampler of what is available? Open up the iTunes U Top Downloads page. There's a whole college education waiting to be downloaded for free.

Student-Powered Podcasting

Creating podcasts is a good way to have students actively create and connect with the world around them. I have been in workshops led by my New Jersey colleague, Chris Shamburg, and what I really like about his approach to podcasting is not just having students develop content, but also learning to responsibly use content created by others in their work. He is good about having students use copyright-free (or copyleft) resources.

His new book is Student-Powered Podcasting (from ISTE) and though it is written for K-12 educators, there are many higher ed instructors and students that could benefit from its clear and straight-ahead approach.

A podcast is a series of digital audio or video files that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication using RSS. The use of RSS and "subscriptions" differentiates podcasts from other ways of accessing media files over the Internet, such as simple downloads or streamed webcasts. For podcasts, subscribers use special client software applications known as podcatchers (iTunes, Zune, Juice, and Winamp are all popular free ones) that can automatically identify and download new files in the series when they are released.

The book leads Mac and PC users through tutorials for two software audio editing programs, GarageBand (from Apple) and Audacity (a free download for Windows or Mac) that students can use to create podcasts.

A first step with podcasting is simply using podcasts in your classroom, but then having students create their own is far more powerful. Though podcasting has been around since 2000, it is still new for many teachers and students.

Sure, podcasting is a powerful tool for teaching 21st-century literacy (which is the literacy of social processes) and tech skills. But, Chris would argue (and I would agree) that is can also teach students to empathize with others, develop relevant content and "publish" in a real way. What would have been the chances of you as a student prior to podcasting having a regularly syndicated radio or TV program available to the world? 

Shamburg says, "I believe that we are at a revolutionary point in our history, a paradigm shift akin to the introduction of writing to the ancient Greeks or the effects of the printing press on Early Modern Europeans. We need to look at our teaching in this larger sweep of history. Twenty-first-century literacies involve the skills and mindsets associated with the digital technologies and global networking of the information age. These skills and mindsets are related to the immediate technologies, but they are also related to the larger and tacit shifts associated with digital technologies and global networking—shifts in social structures, culture, capital, and labor."

Taking a look at the book's table of contents gives you a good sense of the scope of the book. You can read a sample - chapter one - of Student-Powered Podcasting.

Section two of the book contains 16 standalone units containing overviews, procedures for implementation, assessment rubrics, and links to examples. These classroom-tested projects are flexible and are meant to be adapted based on your students, subject matter, and resources available.

MORE: The Podcasting Legal Guide from Creative Commons

iTunes U List: The Last Update

Back in May 2007, Apple added iTunes U (the area for colleges and universities) to the iTunes Store and I blogged about the first 16 colleges whose podcasts were being included there. That was logical because NJIT was one of those "sweet 16" schools. I have updated that post several times and included the growing list of colleges with an iTunes U presence.

I think the posts served a purpose and they got lots of views, but this will be the last update. Apple now lists all the colleges within iTunes, so, as long as you have iTunes installed, you can access the up-to-date list there.

Along with the colleges and universities, they also have other organizations offering educational podcasts in the "Beyond the Campus" area.

My only reason to offer this particular update is to direct readers to the latest addition to iTunes U. Now there are K-12 offerings too. I'm very happy to see that New Jersey has the dominant presence in that category as of now!

These links will only open if you have the free iTunes software installed on your computer which will allow you to view, play or download content.

Additional web links