Using iTunes U to Develop Symphony Without an iPad

August 26, 2010

ipad in education

Apple’s iPad has taken the world by storm, and it seems that educators everywhere are fascinated by the device.

At Julia Green Elementary school in Nashville, Apple’s iPad will be utilized in all of their kindergarten classrooms.  Students will be able to use the technology to surf the web, access iTunes U, and create their own content.  Educators at Julia Green say that this type of technology is essential in preparing students for the global economy.

In A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink cites the aptitude of symphony as the ability to look at vast amounts of information and to find meaningful patterns.  As I read about iPads in the classroom, the aptitude of symphony came to mind.

With the deluge of information that comes across the screen of an iPad, how can we prepare students to process that information and make sense of it all?

The obvious answer is to let our students use an iPad.  Principal Eileen Willis of Julia Green calls this the process of developing “global mindedness” and “preparing children to be in this world”.

But what about the rest of us who do not have the resources to provide an iPad for our students to use on a daily basis?  How can we develop the AWNM aptitude of symphony in our students?

We can go to the “old school” computer lab.  It may not be the newest gadget, or even the best, but most of our students would have access to them.

So why not utilize iTunes U on a plain old desktop?  ITunes U is basically just a content distribution center for universities and public institutions like PBS.  And, it is one of the key selling points that Apple uses to promote iPad in education.  And even better – it’s free!  Just download iTunes and install it in your computer labs.  (Or have the appropriate person do so for you)

If you search for “iTunes U” in the iTunes store you will find a huge amount of content from educational institutions provided free of charge.  Video, lectures, you name it.

It’s the poor man’s symphony.  Your students can still look at vast quantities of information, and then they can assemble that information.  Have students download relevant videos and lectures.  Their media will appear in the iTunes U tab inside of iTunes.  Now your students have looked at various resources over any number of topics and they have accessed multiple media formats.  They have taken that information and formed a pattern.  The only thing they couldn’t do was create it by touching the screen.

I know that this lesson plan is a little more involved than a simple upgrade.  But if you have the time to try this out, please comment about the experience to let us all know how it went.  I am in the process of filling out the forms necessary to get my tech department to install iTunes, so I will post my experience once I get things set up.

Good luck and have fun!


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