iTunes U update allows homework submissions, outside app integration [u]

Posted:
in iPad edited June 2015
Apple's iTunes U is set to be updated to allow students to submit homework through the app, and for course materials to integrate external apps, greatly expanding the abilities of its education-focused platform. [Updated]




Students will be able to submit work such as term papers and book reports, Re/code indicated. In an attempt to keep people honest, each submission will generate a timestamp, recorded in a grade book accessible to teachers.

That same grade book will notify teachers when a student has finished their work and it's ready for scrutiny. If students are running out of time, they can be issued reminders.

The extra app support will let courses make use of both Apple apps and third-party offerings. Separately, Apple is also reportedly planning to implement new discussion options, potentially improving communication with teachers.

The last iTunes U update was released in January. Apple may be hoping to revitalize support for the iPad among educational institutions, which in some cases have deliberately skipped the tablet in favor of options like Chromebooks, which can be cheaper and/or easier for institutions to manage.

Update: The new version is now available for free from the App Store, and requires iOS 8.3. However, while it does include the promised homework, grade book, and discussion functions, there is no mention of external app support. Previously unreported additions include the ability to annotate PDF documents from within the app, and multiple file attachments for submissions.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    I feel like iTunes U could use some new branding. Reminds me of how Microsoft used to use windows for everything. Apple should think about renaming it, it's a little confusing for someone just figuring out what it is.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,300member

    iTunes U has to Apple's most under-resourced, attention-starved product. It offers so little serious functionality for educators and students. It's like no one in the company has paid any attention to it in years.

     

    Education software is generally pretty poorly designed. Apple has the chance to create a truly amazing software platform in this sphere, one that could not only be useful but also profitable. But if the past decade or so is any guide, I am not holding my breath.

  • Reply 3 of 13
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    I adore iTunesU. If anyone here is wanting to learn Swift programming may I recommend taking Stanford course CS193p "Developing Applications for iOS". Paul Hegarty is a great professor. I love how he keeps showing you how to consolidate your code. This is a Winter 2015 course which means it took place from January to April of this year. It's a little out of date with Swift moving from 1.2 to 2.0, but I doubt that will be much of an obstacle, especially since Swift 2.0 won't be an issue unless you install the latest Xcode beta.

    [LIST]
    [*] https://itunes.apple.com/us/course/developing-ios-8-apps-swift/id961180099
    [/LIST]

    Paul Hegarty on Steve Jobs the day after his death…

    [VIDEO]
  • Reply 4 of 13
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    iTunes U has to Apple's most under-resourced, attention-starved product.


    I thought the posters here usually argued the most attention-starved was the Mac Mini - no?

  • Reply 5 of 13
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post



    I adore iTunesU. If anyone here is wanting to learn Swift programming may I recommend taking Stanford course CS193p "Developing Applications for iOS". Paul Hegarty is a great professor. I love how he keeps showing you how to consolidate your code. This is a Winter 2015 course which means it took place from January to April of this year. It's a little out of date with Swift moving from 1.2 to 2.0, but I doubt that will be much of an obstacle, especially since Swift 2.0 won't be an issue unless you install the latest Xcode beta.

    I wish there were more courses about developing applications using Swift for the Mac. It seems like all the programming courses these days are for mobile - but the Mac is far from dead!

  • Reply 6 of 13
    konqerrorkonqerror Posts: 685member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    iTunes U has to Apple's most under-resourced, attention-starved product. It offers so little serious functionality for educators and students. It's like no one in the company has paid any attention to it in years.


     

    The problem is for it to be politically acceptable at most institutions, it has to work under Windows. That means a webapp. I doubt Apple can internally justify spending the money to do that, especially if Google hasn't moved into the market. So it will stagnate.

  • Reply 7 of 13
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,300member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    iTunes U has to Apple's most under-resourced, attention-starved product.


    I thought the posters here usually argued the most attention-starved was the Mac Mini - no?


    I really am not in charge for keeping count of how many people argue for or against a particular issue in this Forum, so how would I know?

     

    Sounds to me like you may have an ax to grind vis-a-vis the Mac Mini getting updated or people posting about that in this Forum. I am really not sure what that has to do with my views on iTunes U.

     

    Sorry if that sounds brusque.

  • Reply 8 of 13
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    I really am not in charge for keeping count of how many people argue for or against a particular issue in this Forum, so how would I know?

     

    Sounds to me like you may have an ax to grind vis-a-vis the Mac Mini getting updated or people posting about that in this Forum. I am really not sure what that has to do with my views on iTunes U.

     

    Sorry if that sounds brusque.


    I was just making a joke, really... not even really a joke so much as an observation. It seems to me lots of people around here complain about the mini at every chance. I've never even owned (or wanted) one. Sorry, I didn't mean to derail the thread or upset you.

  • Reply 9 of 13
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,300member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post



    I adore iTunesU. If anyone here is wanting to learn Swift programming ... etc.

    The content on iTunes U can be quite good. I was referring to the quality of the learning platform. For example, there's tons of fabulous free content on MOOCs such as EdX, or on Stanford or MIT portals, but the interface on all of them is rather low-quality.

     

    Apple could be so much better -- and significantly raise the bar -- in this space. For example, they could work with a few universities or faculty to try and design a completely new and different learning platform. The education industry is dying for something good, with both of the leading ones -- Canvas and Blackboard -- being utterly mediocre (at best) or frustrating (at worst).

  • Reply 10 of 13
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,300member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

     

    The problem is for it to be politically acceptable at most institutions, it has to work under Windows. That means a webapp. I doubt Apple can internally justify spending the money to do that, especially if Google hasn't moved into the market. So it will stagnate.


    This is not the case anymore in the education industry. There has been a dramatic transformation. I see as many -- if not more -- Macs as I do PCs. Almost all of the key learning platforms -- Blackboard, Canvas, etc -- are completely OS- and device-agnostic (but only successful to varying degrees on implementing that goal, however). The primary versions of all these course software platforms are web-based, so it doesn't matter whether you have OSX or Windows or something else. Mobile versions are available for all the key mobile OSs.

     

    Apple could easily create a web version that is OS-agnostic, and if it can make AppleMusic available for Android, why not iTunes U? After all, one would think that if anything justifies a move like that, education does!

     

    (Some minor edits).

  • Reply 11 of 13
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    The content on iTunes U can be quite good. I was referring to the quality of the learning platform. For example, there's tons of fabulous free content on MOOCs such as EdX, or on Stanford or MIT portals, but the interface on all of them is rather low-quality.


    I've only ever used edX and I'd be interested to know what you'd change on it if you could. I've found it's format pretty nice overall, though some courses seem not to take advantage of being as interactive as the system seems to allow. My personal gripes with actual functionality would probably only be occasional glitches in the way the LaTeX is displayed, or coding errors on videos that make the sound cut out or get out of sync when sped up. Plus there are some issues with the formatting it expects in answers (especially equations).

  • Reply 12 of 13
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,293member
    Paul is a NeXT Alum.
  • Reply 13 of 13
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,300member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LighteningKid View Post

     

    I've only ever used edX and I'd be interested to know what you'd change on it if you could. I've found it's format pretty nice overall, though some courses seem not to take advantage of being as interactive as the system seems to allow. My personal gripes with actual functionality would probably only be occasional glitches in the way the LaTeX is displayed, or coding errors on videos that make the sound cut out or get out of sync when sped up. Plus there are some issues with the formatting it expects in answers (especially equations).


    I think you answered many of your own questions! 

     

    I think that, at a minimum, enabling a high level of interactivity -- incl. text, voice, video -- between teacher and student (and among students themselves), allowing flexibility in course design (e.g., a math course is often designed very differently from a humanities course; an engineering course is designed very differently from a medical school course), enabling student uploads of course material such as assignments, ability to set up rubrics for grading, ability to upload evaluations, and enabling calendar links would be key.

     

    Apple could also find ways to link to iBooks, iBooks Author, FaceTime, and Apps (incl. third party apps). 

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