AUGUST 2014 UPDATE: Skipping into my second year as a 1:1 teacher, I’m thrilled to share my experiences with Schoology and iTunes U here on my professional site. I am still using both platforms, and excited about the updates both have to offer: iTunes U offers the new capability to manage courses on the iPad as well as the new class discussion feature; Schoology offers numerous updates to material folder identification (loving the color and photo id option!!), edit discussion capabilities and system administrator functions. My freshmen exclaim that iTunes U looks “professional and clean” and appreciate the iPad notifications while my seniors enjoy the material organization and easy-access in Schoology. I am productively using both platforms for these different classes. Until one platform proves its advantages far outweigh that of any other, I’ll continue to use the best of both. Never one afraid to try something new, I may indeed add another platform to my repertoire next semester for my sophomores – Google Classroom. Being that it’s so new, I’m letting the growing pains subside before I get my feet wet on that side of the pool. In the meantime, GAFE applications will continue to be the main means to share documents and work with students while iTunes U and Schoology are the landing page.
As a new 1:1 iPad teacher this year, I am learning EVERY day along with my students. There is such a variety of platforms and applications to try that it’s no wonder this is my most challenging yet rewarding year-to-date. Not one to settle, I want to ensure I’m communicating information to my students in the best possible way. That said, I’m concurrently using iTunes U with my 1:1 Pad classes while utilizing Schoology with my expository writing students. There are unique advantages and disadvantages to both. My observations at this point in the year appear below. I will keep adding to these observations as I dig deeper into the functions of each:
iTunes U Advantages:
– I’m able to draft as many posts ahead of time as I wish without having to push them out immediately to students.
– It is extremely easy to add a variety of material – documents, pdfs, videos, links, etc.
– The unlimited amount of posts and material allowed is comforting.
– iTunes U allows for “announcements” to be posted. I use this when I want to send students quick reminders about class the next day or a special project.
– Students easily access all material and lesson plans from their iPads. Receiving notification when new material, posts, or announcements are added is advantageous as well.
iTunes U Disadvantages:
– The iTunes U manager is not available via a mobile device. To enroll, create or modify posts, add material, etc., I must access from my laptop.
– Once the material is posted, it is placed under the material tab. It would be nice to categorize these items under a clear label. Within the material tab, I’m able to move items but I’m not able to clearly label categorizes for these items.
– I can easily access all functions of Schoology via my laptop or iPad.
– Schoology easily links with teacher and student Google Drive and Dropbox accounts.
– Creating, administering and grading assessments is a snap. Students voice they appreciate the ease as well.
– I’m unable to save drafts of course updates. I’m a planner and many times, I’ll think of something ahead of time that I wish to include in tomorrow’s lesson yet I’m either not ready to post or don’t wish to preview early to my students. It would be great to be able to draft until I’m ready to communicate the lesson to my students.
Overall, I am very glad I’ve chosen to use both platforms this year and it’s fun getting versed in both. My plan right now is to use both next year as I move to an entire 1:1 course load. I’ll use iTunes U as the main communication line and Schoology for assessments.