When we initially looked at iTunes U as a digital platform, I for one did not really appreciate its true potential. I knew it was widely used in Higher Education as a means of curating digital resources but in schools its use was marginal. Given every student between the ages of 11-18 in our school is issued with an iPad as part of their learning toolkit, the opportunity for our students to benefit from iTunes U was a no-brainer. Yet how to set about it?
Our strategy as a school is to develop our digital platform offering our students far more enriched resources for learning which they can access anytime, anywhere. With the support of our Digital Researcher, our teachers are skilfully curating resources tailored to the learning of our students. Currently we are targeting resources for Key Stages 4 and 5 offering learning resources which in some cases replace the requirement for a text book.
Two weeks ago 90 of our iTunes-U courses were published in the iTunes-U store. This offered the benefit to our teachers of instant editing. We also hoped that our resources would be useful to others. As of today 11,000 people have subscribed to our account across all age ranges. I received feedback very quickly on Twitter from colleagues who were extremely grateful that we are sharing. After all, iTunes-U is a free platform so there is no commercial benefit to us.
The real benefit surely, as schools strive to offer the best education for our young learners, is enjoying the facility to share. In an age when the future of conventional publishing is in the balance, we have the technology to support sharing not just nationally but globally. Indeed, the digital world makes the walls of a school invisible as its reach is exponential. Teachers become part of a global staff room sharing resources digitally, replicating what happens everyday within the walls of a real world staff room. The potential for learning is so powerful.
My hope is that by opening up our resources to the world we shall encourage others to share. Indeed, we may see a day when colleagues in different schools, in different countries collaborate to curate resources. As digital technology removes physical barriers, we should seize the opportunities opening up to us and think differently about how we support our learners and how we support each other. The digital age is the age of sharing so let’s maximise the possibilities so everyone benefits.