Friday, 20 December 2013

iTunesU problems UH OH

Disclaimer: Firstly I love iTunesU and it has changed the way I teach. I love creating and leading my courses there and I know the user experience is equally positive. I feel more confident in my teaching now that I have all my course units in one place. I love being able to send notifications through iTunesU and students have reminders pop up when they have deadlines and when new posts are made. I love it being on my iPad and I love how simple they are to create... However....I do have a bone to pick with iTunesU...all about sharing public courses!

I find it very disappointing that you can not create public iTunesU courses unless you institution signs up to iTunesU. Also courses shared public are for the students, why don't we share courses that can be adapted by teachers? There are a number of problems with both of these things:

-Some people don't work in tech-friendly schools, but are still creating incredible courses. 

-Some people want to retain the courses as their own. When teachers move from school to school they take their resources and lesson plans with them, so why shouldn't an iTunesU course be the same?

-When a teacher leaves an institution they can of course send the course to their new apple ID or duplicate the course, but if that course has been made public who owns it?

-When you put a lot of effort into a course you feel a certain responsibility and connection to it. By giving it to your institution you are handing over responsibility to them.

-I would love to be able to decide on teaching a particular skill, such as coding, and be able to simple search for courses made by like minded teachers!

-Similarly it would be fantastic to have template courses ready to go - courses you can manipulate as a course manager.

-I would also love to be able to share my courses not just as public, but for course managers to take and adapt themselves. 

-Information should be shared widely and freely! I don't want to hold onto my resources and information tightly, I want to spread them around for others to use! I want feedback and tips for improvement and collaboration from my peers! 

-When applying for jobs or when searching for employees, it would be fantastic be for potential employers to be able to look through courses created by an individual. To actually see all the resources they have created, as well as feedback from those who have taken them.

Possible solutions

-Let anyone create public iTunesU courses. 
Individuals working in and out of education and non-educational companies. We are missing out on a wealth of fantastic resources by restricting who can share there. Imagine YouTube without public content! Imagine a world where the only educational blogs were created by schools and not by teachers.

-Curate the main page
Why not have the main page looking a bit like the iTunes Store, where you have lots of iTunesU courses highlighted. Here you could highlight the best blogs made by prestigious institutes as well as ones made by individuals. 

-Change the function of courses available
-When I submit a course to the iTunesU catalog I would like to have two options. I would like to be able to submit it as a course that people can sign up to and take AND I would like to be able to submit it for other course managers to take and adapt to suit their needs!

I know that there have been some changes with iTunesU and we have only recently been able to send courses to other people. However I really hope more changes are made to make it a place where we can all be contributors and not just consumers!

I also think that schools worrying about sharing courses, especially private schools, are worrying for no reason. The courses that teachers share will be very similar to the sorts of lesson plans and resources teacher share...they are nothing without the teacher to deliver them. Firstly I am a firm believer in sharing information for free anyway. Secondly downloading an iTuneU course is no substitute for being in a classroom with a teacher deliver the course.

If a school's teachers are making iTunesU courses that their students can do completely independently, with no class activities, discussions, interaction and without the aid of a teacher, then maybe they have employed the wrong sort of teachers. I would love to make some iTunesU courses that people can enrol on and do in their own time, but those would not be the courses I would deliver in school. I may make some for students who want an extension on a particular topic, so maybe a more advance coding unit - and also I have my library course, which is really just lots of resources for people to dip in and out of. My iTunesU courses that I teach are aimed to show the structure of the course and to pool all the resources students and teachers need together and to start discussions. The courses don't show everything done in class - for one, teachers adapt their lesson, depending on the achievement and needs of the class - also teachers add in activities and resources - I don't share my TED ED lessons, VoiceThreads or GoogleForms in the iTunesU courses - and I often change the activities in class based on suggestions and ideas from my students.
They need a teacher's input.