Lakeland Catholic Schools strives to be at the forefront of technology to help prepare students and staff for the ever-evolving world. iTunesU is a multimedia distribution system which is used by universities and select K-12 organizations around the world. Much like iTunes, iTunesU allows users to browse through PDF, audio and video content on Education topics to find resources to increase and expand their knowledge and expertise on various topics.
iTunesU was developed with education in mind. Apple created iTunesU to “advance teaching, learning, and research through innovation, and to engage and empower students”. (www.apple.com). The content is available from anycomputer with iTunes, and content can be downloaded to computers and Apple mobile devices such as iPhones, iPods, and iPads, which means teachers will potentially have access to this content everywhere and anytime.
Through iTunesU, people from around the world have access to media from a plethora of contributors. Universities across Canada, such as McGill University, Queens University and Trent University, and (MIT, Harvard, Stanford) others around the World currently use iTunesU to provide students with additional resources, including course lectures, and supplemental information. At the K-12 level, iTunesU has a broader function than with Universities, with content from programs and lesson tips to videos on what’s going on around the District.
Lakeland Catholic has become a part of this growing trend, and is a leader in bringing iTunesU to K-12 education. Apple has agreed to let Lakeland Catholic and select school Districts across Alberta develop the first iTunesU K-12 instance in Canada. This has been a process in the works for the last four years.
Information, Communication Technology (ICT) Support teachers, Odette Caron and Scott MacDonald, along with Associate Superintendent of Student and Learning Services, Glenn Nowosad, develop podcasts and videos on a regular basis to help teachers with a multitude of different programs and products such as iLife, iWorks, Comic Life, Noteshare, Kidspiration, and Prezi.
Scott MacDonald and Glenn Nowosad are both Apple Distinguished Educators, which was a program created to recognize education leaders who use Apple products in the classroom in innovative ways to enhance teaching and learning, and using iTunesU is one example of this. Scott MacDonald and Odette Caron have also received SMART technology certification recently, which has further enhanced their abilities to assist teachers in the classroom with their SMARTboard – something every classroom in the District is equipped with. Lakeland Catholic is fortunate to have such highly trained individuals available to assist our staff in preparing students to be 21st century learners.
By making podcasts, and posting them on iTunesU, our ICT support teachers are hoping to help a wider range of teachers and students. Scott MacDonald believes iTunesU is an ideal way to get teachers collaborating: “I like sharing my tips through iTunesU because if people in our District are having these questions it only makes sense that others have the same questions. It’s a great way to share some common questions with teachers and students in our District and throughout Canada.”
Teachers and support staff from this District, across Alberta, and around the world, have access to these interactive resources to help bring technology into the classroom, and teach them all the tips and tricks to help simplify the process along the way. In a District, such as Lakeland Catholic, with 1700 laptops and a district-wide wireless network available for student use, technology plays such a key role in the learning process. Having resources such as these podcasts available is a must.
These podcasts are not just available in English. With such a strong French Immersion program offered by our District, Lakeland Catholic wanted French Immersion teachers to have access to the same level of resources and assistance as their English counterparts. Odette Caron produces her podcasts in French, which will be a benefit to our French Immersion teachers and students. With less resources available to teachers in French, this will without a doubt assist other teachers around the country who provide instruction in French.
The benefit of iTunesU is teachers and support staff have access to other schools’ resources. If they are unable to find what they are looking for within their own District, they are pretty much guaranteed to find it somewhere on iTunesU. The program is an excellent way for Districts to collaborate with other school Districts in the Province and around the world. It is also a great way to share information about our District and our schools. Lakeland Catholic continually has innovative and interesting projects on the go, and iTunesU provides that outlet to share these with the rest of the world. Sharing and collaborating with other educators in the province and country will only allow our staff to grow as educators.
Lakeland Catholic always strives for innovative solutions to meet the needs of their students, parents and staff. iTunesU is a prime example of this, and will allow our District to fulfill the provincial mandate to create a learning environment that transcends the traditional walls of the classroom.