Teachers across Texas will be gaining a new vehicle for sharing professional-development materials and course information this fall after Gov. Rick Perry last week announced the creation of a Texas Education iTunes U channel.
The channel uses the iTunes U platform, a service within Apple’s iTunes Store that offers free downloads of lectures, lab demos, and even campus tours as audio or video files. It also will include online access to education content from state agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Most iTunes content comes from postsecondary institutions, but Mr. Perry, a Republican, expressed confidence that the content pushed into the K-12-geared Texas Education channel would be substantive and sizeable. “A lot of that content may already be out there,” he said in announcing the new service during a speech at Sharpstown High School in Houston. “It’s either overlooked or it’s hard to access. And this will really consolidate this information.”
The channel builds on Project Share, a collaborative effort of the Texas Education Association, The New York Times, and the Public Broadcasting System, which provides a collection of Web 2.0 tools to Texas teachers for professional development. It also follows the 2008 creation of a K-12 iTunes U destination that pulled resources from several state education agencies, as well as the State Education Technology Directors Association. The Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Utah education agencies have all contributed to that venture, as have museums and other education-based organizations.
Consolidation of education technology resources has been a recent theme. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced last month that the federal government would be creating a national Online Learning Registry to pull together digital education resources from across government agencies. Its exact format is still undetermined.
A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 2010 edition of Education Week as Texas Turns iTunes Into a Teaching Tool