State Agencies Bring K-12 Education Content to iTunes U


For more than a year now, Apple's iTunes U has served as a repository of educational multimedia content and resources. While these materials have always been accessible to K-12 educators, the focus of the content has been primarily on post-secondary education. But through a new initiative launched by several state education agencies, along with the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA), K-12 now has its own home within iTunes U.

The initiative, which launched July 1, brings the creation of a K-12 destination to iTunes U, with a broad range of content from a number of state and district agencies--including Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Utah--as well as museums and other education-oriented institutions. As of the launch today, there are 11 sub-portals within the iTunes U K-12 destination.

The idea of the initiative, according to SETDA, is not only to bring state and district resources to K-12 educators within their own states, but to provide nationwide and global access to educational content, curricula, learning materials, news, best practices, and other resources.

"This comprehensive collection of quality digital content offers teachers and students a single location to access resources on topics from Florida history to the Navajo language to nano technologies," said Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of SETDA, in a statement released Tuesday at the NECC 2008 conference in Texas, where the initiative was unveiled. "Teachers can now access these resources in real-time to support teaching and learning. The new K-12 resources on iTunes U address the critical need to engage students through technology-based resources in the core curriculum areas."

Arizona, for example, is making its iDEAL eLearning Platform available through the new destination. It includes video and audio content covering language arts, math, science, social science, and a wide range of other topics, along with news, resources for career and technical training, teacher professional development, and student work. While the portal is administered by the Arizona Department of Education and Arizona tate University, contributions come from such diverse sources as Arizona State Parks, the Arizona Technology in Education Alliance, and the state outreach program known as Conexiones, among others.

Michigan, meanwhile, through its MI Learning, is offering professional development content, a curriculum on marketing, and informational materials in a series called "Inside Michigan Education."

"Michigan is constantly looking for ways to innovate in education," said Mike Flanagan, state superintendent of public schools for Michigan. "MI Learning on iTunes U presents a unique opportunity to engage students, teachers, and parents in new ways of learning. With the growth of mobile devices and interactive media, we now have a variety of content options that helps learning happen any time, anywhere, and not just inside the classroom. That is true innovation."

Other K-12 sub-portals within the iTunes U K-12 destination include:

"Maine has been working closely with partners statewide to bring together materials that foster a 21st century learning environment," said Maine Learning Technology Policy Director Jeff Mao, in a statement released Tuesday. "iTunes U is now an even better resource for K-12 educators, and we look forward to adding more content to enhance and extend teaching and learning."

"It is extremely exciting to be able to share best practices with the educational community via this pioneering approach to digital content," said Florida Director of Technology Learning and Innovation Kate Kemker. "This project pushes the envelope with technology and provides professional development and curricula resources from Florida and other states to the greater educational community."

All content within iTunes U, including K-12, higher ed, and content supplied by other organizations, is free.

The iTunes U K-12 destination can be accessed directly via the iTunes Store by clicking here. Those interested in participating in iTunes U can find information and discussion forums here.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at [email protected].

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at [email protected].

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .