Farewell to Apple iTunes

Whether you loved or hated Apple's iTunes, it was a big step iTunes as a media player, media library, Internet radio broadcaster, and eventually as a mobile device management application. Now it is being unbundled and essentially phased out, according to press release from the latest Apple Worldwide Developer Conference.

Apple Inc. announced it as a new service and tool on January 9, 2001. It was used to play, download, and organize digital multimedia files, including music and video, on personal computers running the macOS and Windows operating systems. It forced you to purchase through the iTunes Store.

My own professional interest in it focused on iTunes U which allowed universities to offer content, including courseware (mostly lectures at first) and other "podcast" materials and even print content, in a open way. I have been writing here about iTunes since 2006.

The latest move by Apple is probably much more tied to changes in the music industry and the way consumers listen to and purchase music. Apple has been pushing users to its Apple Music subscription service, like Spotify and others. That is a better deal for them since it means a guaranteed monthly fee instead of waiting and hoping that a customer will buy songs. I have not subscribed and I have not purchased music from their store in several years, and I suspect I am not alone in that trend.

Apple is phasing out iTunes in favor of three apps called Music, TV and Podcasts. This is very much how those services are already divided on iPhones and iPads.

From what I have read, iTunes will still exist as a standalone iOS app and on Windows PCs and your previous purchases and libraries will be maintained in each new app on Mac computers.

podcasting at NJITI have not found any information on the future of iTunes U. My university, NJIT, was one of the "sweet 16" schools to be there for the launch of iTunes U in May 2007. But with iTunes version 12.7 (August 2017), iTunes U collections became a part of the Podcasts app.

NJIT stopped using their iTunes U instance several years ago. They were not alone in higher education. That is a trend that does not please me as it took away one source of open courseware. But some schools have moved that content to other MOOC platforms which offer richer environments for full course offerings.

Apple says that it will not be remotely deleting years of downloaded and purchased songs and movies, but will probably find a way to bridge, manage and access downloaded content in other ways. A clear cut-off date for iTunes has not been set.

UC Berkeley Will Stop Uploading Free Lectures

"Since well before MOOCs emerged, the University of California at Berkeley has been giving away recordings of its lectures on YouTube and iTunesU. In fact, Berkeley has become one of the most-generous distributors of free lectures on the web, adding some 4,500 hours of video per year.

But that web channel, webcast.berkeley.edu, will soon stop adding fresh content. Last month officials announced that, because of budget cuts, the university will no longer offer new lecture recordings to the public, although the videos will still be available to students on the campus."

continue reading at chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/


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 eduapp.apple.com

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. Teachers.tv 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