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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

Free eBooks Available on iTunes U

It looks like most of the books were already available for free elsewhere, but I think it's significant that some open eTextbooks are now being offered on Apple's  iTunes U.

Using iTunes and the iTunes U part of the store is certainly more mainstream than many of the other free book sites. If it opens up teachers and students to open-education books - including textbooks - that is a good thing. If it makes more institutions familiar with a way to share their resources openly, that is also a good thing.

Oxford, Rice, and the Open University are three institutions that Apple announced have added digital books to the lectures and other materials they already make available there.

The Oxford e-books includes Shakespeare’s entire First Folio. Open University has 100 interactive books and plans to double that by year's end.

Rice already had titles available at the Connexions site which host a lot of open textbooks. Rice put some of the most popular textbooks from there into iTunes U.

iPhone Application Development

Most of us can't get a seat in Stanford's popular iPhone and iPad application development course, but luckily the open side of courseware allows anyone with app dreams to follow online. 

Stanford has released the iOS 5 version of their "iPhone Application Development" on iTunes U. You can download course lectures and slides for free. The obvious audience is students of all ages interested in developing apps, but if you are teaching or planning to teach such a course yourself, it would make sense to take a look.

Stanford offered an iPhone apps course online in 2009 and it made some history by scoring a million downloads in its first seven weeks. The instructor is Paul Hegarty and he teaches students how to program apps for iPads and iPhones. It is the most popular download on
Stanford's iTunes U site, with more than 10 million views.

It is no small task to learn to create apps. Unofficial prerequisites: If you are unfamiliar with Apple's operating systems, you need to learn Objective-C.  If you were a Stanford student, you would have taken a year of computer science classes and had object-oriented programming before taking the apps course. Two Stanford prerequisite courses, Programming Methodology and Programming Abstractions, are also available on iTunes U.