I have a new found love for iTunesU and here is why…

Wow! The end of the year went by so quickly! I can’t believe we are in our second week of summer break already. 

Last week we had a two day tech training for teachers in our district as we get ready for going 1:1 with iPads in the fall. While I was preparing for the training I was thinking about how to get apps, video, and other information distributed to teachers who have little to no experience with the iPad. I took a half day class on iTunesU in May but hadn’t used it as a tool in the classroom yet due to the time of year so I thought I’d try it out on the teachers. I figured if it works for them, then it should work for my third graders! 
So I sat down and created a course for the training.

  
It was way easier to make a course when I had a purpose and materials as opposed to making a sample one during the class! I had multiple sessions throughout the two days but I wanted all of the participants in each session to have access to all of the materials for all of the sessions since the sessions are all relevant to them. So, I made one course and made each session a separate Post. 

  
Within each post I was able to “add an assignment”. Although the apps and videos aren’t technically assignments, this is the way to add your materials to the course. After clicking add assignment, click on “attach materials”. From here you can add anything from the App Store, iTunes Store, web links, photos, videos, etc. After attaching your material make sure to add a description and you’re done! 

  
Once I finished my course, I wanted to share it with the session-goers. One way you can share it is to post or send the course code and have your students enter the course code when adding a course in iTunesU. I felt like this was not the best way for my teachers or my students. I ended up going to iTunesU on my computer and going to the My Courses page. From there you can click on the settings and get a link for your course. I then turned that link into a QR code that takes you directly to the course.  Now all students need to do is scan the QR code and they are taken directly to the course in iTunesU! Here is the QR code for the course I made for the training:

 

Ok so by now you hopefully can see how easy and convenient it is to use in a tech training but you are probably wondering why I’m so excited to use it in my classroom of third graders right?? Well, this next year all of my students will be getting an iPad to use in the classroom along with their very own Apple ID (which just so happens to be their enormously loooong school email address) and their password that they got to make up themselves (yay for 8year old passwords…ugh). I am very happy with our tech departments decision to allow each teacher to be in charge of what apps their students have instead of pushing out apps district or school wide. However, now I run into the problem of sending 8year olds out into the land of the App Store with a shiny new Apple ID at the beginning of the school year…..doesn’t sound like the best way to start off the year!! This is where iTunesU is going to come in VERY handy!! The district will already have a QR code reader on the iPads so all my students have to do is point and click and they will be automatically enrolled in my course. From there I have already added a post called Apps. They click on the post and it gives them a list of apps I want them to have on their iPad and a link (through iTunesU) for them to upload each app directly instead of searching the App Store:

 

This image is from my iPad and I already have all of the apps uploaded. If I didn’t I would see a button that says “Get” or “$4.99” (if it costs money) where the i in the circle is.  
Not only will this be great for my students at the beginning of the year, but also for students joining our class throughout the year who will be showing up with a new iPad. This will be an easy way to get them caught up quickly. It will also be a nice place to keep a record of the apps they should have. 

One thing that I’m pretty sure will not work for this is an app that has been purchased with volume-purchasing. I think our tech department will still need to push those apps out. Unless you know of another way? Let me know in the comments below how you have your students upload apps in the classroom!

Until next time,

Heather

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