New iTunes U

It’s a cool, damp January Sunday afternoon, so it’s a great time to spend a bit of time with the new ITunes U app, sampling course content. I’ve been wanting to learn iOS development, and have been working my way through a book on the topic. I decided on a whim to load the new app on my iPad, checked the top courses, and the #1 free course was a Stanford course from fall 2011 on iOS development, updated for iOS 5. I “subscribed” and took the first class. The production values are outstanding and the professor does a very nice job with the material. The slides are beautifully integrated with the video and illustrate the points well. This lecture already clarified several points that were confusing me.

The iTunes U app uses a bookshelf metaphor like iBooks. You can put courses or collections in your library, but I’m not really sure about the differentiation as there seems to be some overlap. However, the point is more about the tool, running on an iDevice, as a portal to a wealth of free material presented in a convenient format. This is likely to be huge in several niches…continuing adult education, K12 home schooling, tutoring/remedial learning in K12 and at the college level. It’s a continuing part of the evolution of academic pedagogy. Self-directed non-degree-seeking (for now), but surely an interesting development on the eLearning scene, and more bites at the heels of brick & mortar education, especially when combined with Apple’s new textbook publishing tool.

Time to get back to the next lecture on iOS development 😉

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