These past couple of months I have been involved in iTunes U workshops and Bootcamps in The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark to facilitate teachers to fill up the iTunes U store. Our aim is to have a full secondary curriculum in iTunes U within a couple of years.
iTunes U Course Manager is a flexible, easy-to-use tool that allows you to share your teaching with the students in your classroom, and with students worldwide.
The way we work is that first we give you a half-a-day workshop on learning your way around iTunes U. After you have had your chance to play around with it and tried it out in the classroom we invite you to come to the iTunes U Bootcamp. This Bootcamp is a one or two days event where teachers from different subjects and schools come together to one thing. Rethink their education and build great iTunes U courses.
The primary role of the trainers at these Bootcamps is to facilitate the work that the teachers are doing in whichever way possible. We sit down with you one-to-one, give small 20 minute max workshops on iBooks Author, Keynote, Flip the classroom; whatever may be necessary. This is something that is hardly ever done but is so important to the success of any iPad Programme. Giving teachers the time and tools they need to create lessons materials that are geared towards students with iPads.
Below is an excerpt of my presentation at these Bootcamps that can help you take your courses to the next level.
1. Describe clear learning outcomes
Add a list of learning objectives in the course description and/or in one of the first posts. This will help students quickly determine if the course will meet their learning needs, especially for public courses. Furthermore, it will help you organise your thoughts and structure what you will include in the course.
2. Articulate an active learning pathway
Begin your assignments with an action verb; assignments will form a to-do list for your students. Think of using using all caps for the action verbs. This makes it really clear for the learners what they need to do. Furthermore, tell a story of the learning your students will do with your outline, posts, and assignments. Use posts to add meaning and context to learning materials; connect the current activities to what they have already learned, and how this new content will be important in future units. Remember: You can have a post without materials but never materials without a post.
3. Incorporate diverse learning materials
Provide materials that support diverse learning styles; aim for a healthy mix of text, video, apps, books, etc. Recognize that your students may not learn the same way you do. There is no limit to the amount of storage in public courses (and a whopping 20gb in private courses) so you if you have them, you can add a video, app or document about the content that you are covering and let students decide which one they want to use.
Use text in ePub or iBooks Author format whenever possible. This enables the highlights and notes aggregation feature in the Notes tab. Consider converting your PDF, Word, or Pages documents to ePub or iBooks Author formats.
Link to video and audio on iTunes U or upload your own media to the course. This allows users the option to stream or download media, and it enables video and audio note-taking in the the Notes tab.
Incorporate apps, not only for content, but also for student creative expression.
Enter user-friendly display names for files you upload and websites you reference. In the Materials tab, click the blue “i” icon, and then select Edit to provide this metadata.
4. Make it interactive
One of the most commonly heard critiques of iTunes U is that it is one way traffic from the teacher to student, whereas most teachers would like to see an environment where students can share their content as well. However this needn’t be the case. You can link to places where you normally ask questions to your students like Socrative, Nearpod or Google Forms.
Socrative, Nearpod can be used in session as they require “rooms” to be open and students to open in real time. Google forms can be used any time. I also usually add a “HAND IN via Showbie” assignment to the posts that required students to create their own content.
5. Leverage mobility and built-in tools
Craft activities that take advantage of the mobile platform; collect data or create content outside the classroom, on your campus, during field trips, or in your community. Use apps that take advantage of the built-in camera, microphone, video recorder, geolocation, accelerometer, gyrometer, etc. to build new kinds of activities.
6. Leave the classroom
Following point six. Very often if you let students use their iPads you will find out that classroom can be too small for them. Let the students go outside to do research, fieldwork and collect data. Students have everything they need on their iPad. Learning doesn’t need to happen within the four walls of the classroom. I have noticed however that when I ask my students to create something that required visuals or audio that they want to go out of the classroom. They do not want their classmates in the background of their pictures or the background noise be too loud in their audio recordings.
Previously students would gather their content at school and would create their powerpoint, document, movie etc. at home where they have the ICT needed. This is no longer the case. Students can create something within the time period of one hour. So it is possible to set them a task that they can finish in a quiet spot outside of the classroom.
7. Start from scratch
For some teachers it’s comforting thought that when you throw a bunch of iPads into the classroom and nothing needs to change. The teacher can keep on teaching the same way he has always done. It’s a worrying thought for many teachers that you can throw a bunch of iPads into the classroom and nothing needs to change. They can keep on teaching the same way they have always done. iPads themselves don’t change education. The teachers and how they use them are still the most important element.
Take the time to think about what is the best way to teach the content and skills that you need to. Don’t merely think about how to digitalise the materials that you already have. With all of the tools you now have available what is the best way to teach this chapter, idea, skill etc.?
It’s an extremely powerful time to be a teacher right now. There are very little limits to what you can do. So what is it going to be?
8. Apply the SAMR model to your class tasks.
The SAMR model is a framework through which you can assess and evaluate the technology you use in your classroom. This video explains it quite well in two minutes.
Do your class tasks modify or redefine learning? Below is an overview that I made of the different class tasks that I have done over the last 3 years. You can get more information when available by clicking on the blue links. (copyright notice, for this I personalised the table made by @danielbudd)
9. Go public and share
The aim of these iTunes U workshops and Bootcamps is to fill up the iTunes U store with great content of actual teachers. Lessons that great teachers use in their iPad classroom. For free! So many of our lessons stay within the four walls of our classroom which really is a waste.
This way other teachers and students around the world can follow your courses.