Yesterday, I was able to visit Tallahassee to help launch iTunes U courses developed by teachers from across the state of Florida. Starting in October, FASA (the Florida Association of School Administrators), along with Apple and the HELiOS foundation, selected teachers from multiple school districts to build online iTunes U courses for teachers, students, and parents that align with state standards and provide TONS of digital content and resources. I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in this initiative, and was able to work with teachers who are full of so much awesome that I can't adequately describe it here (one of whom is the great, techy Lauren Fenech--check out her twitter account here). The courses include sample lessons based on subject area and grade level, and include iPad apps that we actually use in all of our classrooms, so you know they're good. Check out the courses here (I headed up the ELA 3, or 8th grade ELA course).
After our table demo in the morning, FASA and Apple held a press conference right in the heart of the Florida Capitol, where we got to speak about the courses and take questions. I did a quick demo of our 8th grade ELA course for the people in attendance. By far, the best part of the conference for me was being able to hear a high school student, the daughter of one of our Apple collaborators, speak about technology--especially her phone. "My phone is more than just on me all the time--it's part of me," she began. "Being able to look at course content and materials, and study what I'm having difficulty with has changed the way I learn. Learning doesn't start and end at school anymore, and we aren't limited to the four walls of the classroom." Cheers to that!
Being part of this team of educators and hearing their stories about how technology, specifically the iPad and the countless apps at their students' disposal, has changed how they teach, it's clear that this stuff isn't a passing fad, or something to distract us while we wait for education to go back to the way it was. It's not going to, and these awesome teachers don't want it to.