Wednesday, September 5, 2012

iTunes U Course Manager Just Might Be Big

Apple’s iTunes U Course Manager is a web-based tool that allows instructors to create “courses” that can be downloaded and synced to the iTunes U iPad app. That could be a very big deal for higher education if the platform can jump a couple of pretty big hurdles, according to Joshua Kim in a Technology and Learning blog post.

Courses created in the platform can include documents, audio, and video files, which can be read on whatever iPad app a student chooses. The information can be viewed both online and offline, provides additional features that allow students to create and share study notes, and enables course materials to be delivered to students without going through a third-party publishing platform.

The biggest obstacle to making this work on any scale is also the most obvious: Students have to be hooked into an iOS device, preferably an iPad. The student experience on an iPad is great, according to Kim, but those students without Apple devices are out of luck.

Another concern for Kim is students will have to go outside the Apple setting at some point because the platform separates content for iOS devices from the creation of blogs and discussion boards that appear on learning management systems.

“Despite these challenges, I see the evolving Course Manager and iTunes U Courses as a compelling development,” Kim writes. “We have struggled to find a robust way to deliver a combination of text and multimedia curricular content that is organized around a course narrative to mobile devices. Apple seems to be offering us, or at least those of us in the Apple universe, a solution.”

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