How To Start Using iTunes U In The Classroom

itunes-u-fredsitkinsPreviously I wrote an article about the incredible potential of iTunes U for both student and staff learning. I posed the question: Why Aren’t We Talking More About iTunes U? I was blown away by the many positive remarks in response to this article from others that have also experienced the benefits of iTunes U.
I was recently asked if I would write a follow up to that post. In essence, the request was for me to help those interested in learning more about iTunes U to take the next step and explore how easy it is to build a course. So, here we go, if you are interested in building a course in iTunes U it really is relatively straightforward and easy. I feel it’s important at this point to emphasize what I mean by easy.

iBooks Author

ibooks author
As an example, I wouldn’t use the terms straightforward and easy when describing iBooks Author. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that iBooks Author isn’t good, in fact I think it’s a great tool, it’s just not as easy to use as iTunes U. I have had many staff members trained in iBooks Author and while several have been successful in creating a book, when it comes to adding special effects, videos and essentially anything that requires the use of a widget, things quickly become difficult. I haven’t observed any of the same struggles with the many teachers in Boyne City that have created iTunes U courses.
See another Edudemic article by Fred: ‘The Early Results Of An iPad Classroom Are In.
itunesu-logoIn fact, it’s so easy that even this administrator is in the midst of creating his own course. So rest assured, if I can do it, the use of the terms straightforward and easy can be associated with iTunes U.The first decision you will need to make when creating a course is to publish your course as an individual teacher or under an institutional iTunes U site. To help with that decision here are a couple of basic points for each:  If you decide to publish as an individual teacher you will be limited to 50 course participants and the course will not be a part of the searchable iTunes U library for others to enjoy.
This would be a good option for a teacher that wants to see what iTunes U is all about and how it might work in their classroom. However, once you realize what an incredible tool iTunes U is, I would encourage you to invest some time and energy into getting your institution on iTunes U as opposed to continuing to build courses under your private account.

Public Site Manager

If you decide to publish your course under your institution, the first thing you will need to do is determine who will be your institutions Public Site Manager and then apply to include your institution in iTunes U.  The Public Site Manager will need to have the authority to contractually bind your institution to the terms and conditions of the iTunes U service agreement.
You should also know that this will be verified through the supervisor’s contact information that is provided during the application process.  While these are a couple of additional steps, I would recommend that this be the avenue most schools choose to use. When your course is published under your institution you will experience several benefits; you are not limited to the number of participants for your course, you are granted unlimited upload space, unlimited number of courses, and your course becomes a part of the online catalog of free educational content on iTunes U.


There is great benefit in educational institutions working collaboratively to change the landscape of learning for our students and this public iTunes U library is an incredible resource for that collaboration to occur.  This public iTunes U library represents one of the best things occurring in educational circles today, namely the free sharing of resources to improve the art of teaching without expecting something in return. PLN’s are developing in educational circles across the globe and within them are the grassroots efforts that will shape the future of education.

Course Manager

Once you make the decision to publish as an individual or an institution you are ready to begin building your course. Courses are developed within the Course Manager module on your computer. The course manager tool walks you through each step in building a course and provides you directions along the way.

How To Create iTunes U Courses

If you would like additional support building your course, please visit our website at iPadPD.comwe have a wide variety of resources and tutorials that will assist you in the process of building your course. Another great resource you could use would be this awesome iTunes U course developed by our friends at The de Ferrers Academy on how to build an iTunes U course:
5958448Creating iTunes U Courses
This course is full of video demonstrations covering each step of the process of building a course. Download this course on your iPad and you get the added benefit of seeing what it’s like to learn through an iTunes U course.
With iTunes U, it’s easy to create your own custom courses for the iPad and teach them in your classroom. And the iTunes U app puts all the materials you create for your course— syllabus, videos, apps, iBooks, class assignments, and more—all in one place. Right in the app, your students can play videos or audio lectures, read iBooks, and view presentations. They can also see a list of course assignments, then check them off as they’re completed. One of the best features is that they can take notes within iBooks and on videos and they are all organized in one location within the course. It’s also nice that the course can continue to be changed after it’s been published. Any time you create a new post, students receive a push notification informing them of the change.
As I said in my first iTunes U article. I know that schools attempting to implement iPads into instruction have a great deal on their plates. However, in my opinion iTunes U can be one of the keys to unlocking the full potential of the iPad in schools.
The sooner educators experience the true benefits of the iPad, the sooner they will discover how to truly change teaching and learning for our students.
Fred Sitkins
Elementary School Principal
Boyne City, MI
This article on using iTunes U in the classroom is also featured in the Edudemic iPad Magazine. Check it out here in the App Store!

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