VERSAILLES — Free lectures, books, podcasts and state-specific resources are now available through the iTunes U platform, state officials announced Wednesday.
iTunes U is a dedicated area in Apple's iTunes Store that gives users free resources from learning institutions all over the world. Kentucky on iTunes U will allow students, teachers, parents and communities to access resources including the University of Kentucky College of Education, Kentucky Educational Television programming such as Everyday Science, News Quiz and Kentucky Life, and the Kentucky Core Academic Standards.
"This is going to be a 21st-century library at the fingertips of every student and teacher in the state," said UK President Eli Capilouto, who was joined at the announcement by Gov. Steve Beshear.
Kentucky on iTunes U can be viewed on a Mac or PC, iPad, iPhone, or iPod. The content will include videos produced by school districts.
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The collaborative effort was announced Wednesday, in conjunction with the unveiling of Woodford County High School's iPad program. Woodford will be the first school in the state to provide each of its 1,250 students with an iPad, a tablet computer. Other schools, including some in Fayette County, have iPads that are shared among students. Woodford's program is "one to one," meaning a tablet for each student.
"We believe this can dramatically change delivery and instruction in our classrooms," Woodford County Superintendent Scott Hawkins said.
The district's school board budgeted $785,000 to start the program, plus $125,000 for recurring costs, Hawkins said. Students can take the tablets home if they pay a fee of $35 per year.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said the tablets allow students to personalize their instruction in the same way that they personalize their music playlists.
For example, Hannah Williams, 17, a junior at Woodford County High School, said she is a visual learner who needs to see something to understand it. On Wednesday, she watched a video lecture on the periodic table of elements, and she used a flash-card program to figure out what chemicals are in a certain compound.
"I think it's going to be very beneficial to students just because it can adapt to everyone's learning types," Hannah said. "I have a hard time listening to things, but when I see it written out, it helps me to understand it. I can go home and review everything I did in class."
Dylan Spencer, 16, a junior, said the iPad helps him to find information and share it.
"You can schedule your agenda on here with the calendar app, and it helps you know when assignments are due," Dylan said.
Ian O'Canna, 17, a senior, received a tablet computer for Christmas. At first he saw it as a way to play games, listen to music and watch movies. But it has become an educational tool that allows him more interaction with teachers.
"The Power Points that they show in class I can access at home," Ian said. "It's made studying a lot more user-friendly. I have a note-taking program on it. It allows me to categorize my notes."
A pilot program using the iPads began in February in certain classes. The iPads will be distributed to all students at Woodford County High in November.