iTunes U app review

A blog by @mircwalsh

iTunes U app review

App review iTunes U.

At last weeks Apple Education Launch they focused on all things to do with e-learning. This of course meant that they finally gave some publicity to iTunes U.

Although it launched back in 2007 and has thousands of free downloads available from big world renowned institutes such as Stanford iTunes U has always been underplayed and has mostly gone unrecognised by educators. This has finally given the platform the credit it deserves.

So what is iTunes U?

iTunes U is a virtual learning platform through which colleges upload course material that can then be downloaded by students, parents and teachers onto their computers or iDevices.

Easy. Learning on the go. I wish they had this back when I was in college!

So we have heard about all the benefits this brings to students and teachers over the past week but what about the benefits it brings to existing iTunes U content creators?

For the past year I have been part of a team creating content for the iTunes U platform. The questions we initially faced from teachers were; “what is iTunes U and how can it benefit me?” We were only the second education institute in the country to try out this platform so there was little if any awareness.

In the initial months we met with teachers and luckily for us many decided to jump on board. Over the first four months we created over 200 podcasts with many more added since.  These have included audio and visual material covering a range of courses from beauty to animal care, film and many more.

This process is a lengthy one and we have had to create everything from the page design to album art, podcast intros and much more. Added to this hours upon hours of editing photos in Photoshop and creating videos with Final Cut Pro. It is not just a simple job of shooting a video and uploading it. Seeing the material live on the platform however makes the work all the more rewarding.

After the launch of our platform back in June of last year the whole drive seemed to go for me. Personally I felt we had an aim of that big day but after that I had the feeling of what next. Everywhere we went people still had the question; “what is iTunes U?”. So I would pop out my iPad and show them our videos.

However as the videos were stored in the iPod app and the platform was stored in the iTunes app this often became a lot of hard work and given the lack of readily available wifi and slow 3G speeds in this country it often was not possible.

Finally Apple has taken note of this and we have a brand new all in one app. It makes it easier for students to find their videos, it makes it easier for me to find mine. It also makes it easier when I am going to meetings to just open the app and have my pre-downloaded material there on the screen as well as readily available access to new downloads. It is also great to see the colorful range of album art that designers including myself have spent hours creating.

Also I have found myself browsing through podcasts from other colleges which before I rarely did as it was not so easy on my iPad and didn’t feel like doing it on my mac.

So thank you Apple for finally changing this. For making the platform more accessible and for also raising awareness of this.

For the past week I hear people talking about iTunes U and they know what they are talking about. I no longer experience that blank face expression from people when I mention it.

Hopefully many more institutions will become involved and our classrooms can take that final step towards digital education.

Download iTunes U app here for free.