Note: the following post was published in the Fall 2009 Edition of the MACUL Journal
While some teachers are battling to keep iPods out of the classroom, I’m encouraging my students to use them as learning tools. These seemingly universal music players have evolved from monochrome bricks to an elegant multimedia platform which is constantly fed by iTunes, its software counterpart. As the capabilities of the iPod expand, educators are considering ways that the iPod can be used for learning.
In 2007 Apple opened a dedicated educational podcast forum it named iTunesU (iTunes link). This forum provides free, high quality educational resources from prestigious universities to anyone in the world. One year later, Apple expanded iTunesU to include content for grades K-12. iTunesU K-12 (iTunes Link) was born. MACUL, in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Education, has partnered with Apple to populate iTunesU K-12 with high quality standards-linked resources which are posted on iTunesU K-12 under the title MI Learning (iTunes link). Michigan is one of eight states participating in this project. This year, ten educators were selected to open the MI Learning portal by each creating 25 resources for student use. I am proud to have been one of those 10 educators.
My contribution to the MI Learning portal consisted of a series of videos I titled “labcasts" (iTunes link). These video podcasts demonstrate and explain laboratory activities that are common in a high school biology class. Now that these podcasts are complete I plan on using them next year to augment the instruction that I provide my students. The day before a lab I will ask students to download the appropriate labcast episode and watch it on their computer or iPod so that they have a basic understanding of the procedures, techniques, and goals of the lab. In addition, MI Learning resources are an excellent tool to help students who may have missed class. Furthermore, many of my students found that watching these labcasts helped them prepare for upcoming exams. This year I received several comments of appreciation from students who watched these videos as they studied for a lab test.
Although the MI Learning portal is young, it has great potential. Currently there are excellent standards linked resources for high school and elementary science as well as professional and career development. With your help, MI Learning can become an amazing tool for Michigan students and educators! Anyone can submit resources to be included in the MI Learning channel of iTunes. Do you have a lesson that you have perfected? Can you demonstrate a challenging topic in a creative way? Share your expertise with educators from around the state and the country. Visit MACUL's MI Learning page for information on how to submit your resources.
Instead of fighting to keep iPods out of the classroom, tap into their potential as learning devices. Explore iTunesU K-12 for resources that can benefit the students in your classroom.