Apple Updates Ed. App to Fuel Teachers’ Creation of Content Via iPads

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Apple is revamping its iTunes U app to allow teachers to create and edit content directly through iPads, in a move that could end up luring even more educators to the tablet devices, already a fixture in many schools.

To date, teachers have already been able to access the free iTunes U tool through apps, but they haven’t been able to create content using the app itself. Instead, they were only able to create content through web-based, non-app tools, the company explained.

ITunes currently houses a “selection of academic materials for everyone around the world,” Eddy Cue, a senior vice president at Apple, said in a statement. “Now, with the ability to better manage and discuss educational content, learning becomes even more personalized on [an] iPad.”

Within the school mobile-technology marketplace, iPad has a commanding presence, according to recent estimates. A recent report by IDC Research, for instance, found that iPads account for 94 percent of the tablet market in K-12 schools, though rollouts of iPads in some districts, most notably the Los Angeles school district, have been dogged by setbacks.

Apple officials boast that iTunes is the “world’s largest catalog” of free educational content from schools and organizations.The company says that the new, in-app updates will give teachers the ability create and revise content for classes, using materials from Apple platforms such as iWork, iBooks Author, and any of the 75,000 educational apps that are already available for iPads. Teachers will also be able to use the built-in cameras on iPads to capture photos and integrate them into the courses they make.

Teachers who create iTunes U courses can make them accessible to their peers around the United States, and even in other countries, or they can restrict that content to specific audiences, such as individual classes.

As education companies’ interest in delivering academic material through digital rather than paper formats continues to grow, some providers have chosen apps as the vehicles for delivering ambitious amounts of content.

To cite one recent, very different example from the international market: Amazon recently announced that it had reached a deal to deliver e-textbooks to teachers throughout Brazil using a free Kindle reading app. The textbooks would be delivered to educators on Android tablets issued by the Brazilian government, according to Amazon.

The new updates to the iTunes U app that allow for course-creation and management are available only through iPads, though teachers can still use iTunes U course manager through the Internet—either on Macs or personal computers—as they were able to do previously, an Apple spokesman said. 

Students, meanwhile, can access the courses on the iTunes app using iOS, or mobile operating systems devices, such as iPads, iPhones, or iPod touches, the company said.

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