Apple Announces Massive iTunes U Update

Schools that don’t like iPads should probably think twice before switching to laptops

Apple is offering educators and students new tools to build and consume content on iPad via an iTunes U update that kicks off on July 8. At the same time, LA school district officials announced plans to ditch iPads and adopt laptops for their students' needs.

Teachers will be able to employ the free iTunes U app to create, edit, and manage whole courses directly on the tablet computer, while students will be able to collaborate, as well as start class discussions and ask questions, all from the iPad.

“Education is at the core of Apple’s DNA and iTunes U is an incredibly valuable resource for teachers and students,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services.

“iTunes U features an amazing selection of academic materials for everyone around the world. Now, with the ability to better manage and discuss educational content, learning becomes even more personalized on iPad,” Cue added.

Apple will be offering these perks via “in-app updates,” which means that the actual iTunes U application will probably remain unchanged.

Teachers will be able to directly add content and learning materials from iWork, iBooks Author, and any of the over 75,000 educational apps available for iPad, while enrolled students will have the tools to collaborate with their classmates and teachers.

“Taking advantage of the built-in camera on iPad, teachers can also capture photos and videos to incorporate real-world subject matter into any course, making relevant content available to all students in an instant,” Apple says.

Students will follow classroom discussions and join conversations, and set up push notifications for new topics. Teachers can participate in forums, complete with administrator privileges.

Apple cites Fraser Speirs, head of computing and IT at Cedars School of Excellence in Scotland, as saying, “iTunes U is the most powerful destination for bringing the entire educational experience to life on iPad. By freeing teachers to create and organize courses right on iPad, educators can be better focused on enabling student participation both with the content and one another,” Speirs added.

“Discussions in iTunes U puts the potential for thoughtful exploration and collaboration into the hands of every one of our students,” said Larry Reiff, a teacher from Roslyn High School in New York. “iPad and iTunes U continue to provide students with the tools they need to build knowledge and demonstrate their learning.”

Apple currently allows teachers to create iTunes U courses in 69 countries and make them accessible via the iTunes U app in a total of 155 countries. Interested parties can download iTunes U for free using the supplied link.

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