Virginia Launches K-12 iTunes U Portal

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The commonwealth of Virginia has launched a new education portal on iTunes U, the education space within the iTunes service from Apple.

iTunes U provides free access to educational content contributed by universities, colleges, K-12 institutions, and even entire statewide education systems. Virginia is not the first such statewide system to embrace iTunes U and contribute educational materials to the large and growing user community. The Tennessee and Maine state departments of education both operate portals within iTunes U, as does Arizona with its IDEAL learning platform. Several other individual K-12 districts, online schools, and other programs also have a presence on iTunes U, along with a plethora of higher education institutions, some of which provide content specifically for K-12 teachers and students.

Virginia's portal, dubbed Virginia on iTunes U, is targeted toward students, teachers, and other stakeholders and provides audio, video, and supporting materials covering a variety of subjects. For example, in "Fun with Physics," there are video clips from the Center for Instructional Technology Solutions in Industry and Education from the School of Education at Virginia Tech, along with links to additional resources, including teaching ideas for using the materials. Other content areas within the portal include modules on data-driven decision making for teachers, preschool activities for parents, and an astronomical imaging program for students.

The portal, according to information released by the Virginia Department of Education, is part of a larger effort to "harness the power of digital media and mobile devices to expand and supplement classroom-based education." Other portions of the effort include the Virginia Physics Flexbook, which is an open compilation of lessons and teaching techniques, and the Learning without Boundaries initiative, which is an effort to invest in and support mobile and classroom technologies, such as a pilot program using the iPod touch in Radford City Schools and Montgomery County Public Schools to allow students to explore alternate means of learning.

"The 21st century has presented unprecedented opportunities to expand learning beyond the walls of the traditional schoolhouse," said Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine in a statement released this week. "We want to embrace those technologies that can help us provide a personal and more meaningful learning experience for students of every kind as we continue to shift our expectations from competence to excellence."

The Virginia on iTunes U portal project is being led by the Virginia Department of Education in collaboration with Radford University, Blue Ridge Public Television, and Thinkfinity. The portal can be accessed directly through iTunes by clicking here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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