Lugging heavy textbooks to class may soon be a thing of the past. No, this does not mean students are going to stop learning. It means that textbooks and course material may soon be completely digital with the help of iTunes U, Apple’s open education platform. This program provides the tools needed for educators to create a fully digital curriculum. Textbooks, assignments, interactive material, and apps can all be included in an iTunes U course. The program’s agenda-like interface provides students with a list of assignments that can be checked off as completed. They can take notes as they move through the material, and iTunes U will save them in one place. The ease of use and comprehensive material available through iTunes U has the potential to replace traditional textbooks and university course structure in the coming years.
Notre Dame is currently exploring the benefits of using iTunes U as a content delivery platform. In July 2012, Matt Willmore, Elliott Visconsi, and Andre Murnieks traveled from Notre Dame to Apple headquarters to learn about iTunes U and Apple iBooks Author. After learning about the technology, Visconsi developed an iBook for his First Amendment course and partners with OIT to lease iPads to each student in his class. Willmore teamed up with Notre Dame professor Elizabeth Mazurek to develop her History of Ancient Rome course for iTunes U. The course includes a custom iBook that incorporates text, images, video clips, and interactive diagrams. All content is available in the same place and works together, allowing students to better comprehend course material.
This content is free to anyone with an iPhone or iPad, bringing the benefits far beyond the Notre Dame community.
“Even if you can’t get the physical experience of sitting in a Notre Dame class, you can still get the knowledge that class would provide,” says Willmore.
While the full potential of iTunes U is still being explored, it is clear that the program could radically change our education system. Not to mention lightening the load of student backpacks.
To explore Professor Mazurek’s iTunes U course, click here.