Virginia to use iTunes U in new education initiative

Last week, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine launched a series of new K-12 education initiatives that includes Virginia on iTunes U and a program to develop new mobile education apps to help students learn math.

Virginia will use iTunes U—a learning-focused area of the iTunes Store—to share digital content that supports the Virginia Standards of Learning. All material will have to be submitted to the Virginia Department of Education, where an evaluation will ensure the content “maintains the highest standards of quality, accuracy, and relevance.”

Having an evaluation process to ensure quality content doesn’t necessarily mean that it will positively affect learning for K-12 students. Virginia's Secretary of Technology Aneesh Chopra told Macworld that the initiative calls for follow-ups to see how the program is working, as well.

Chopra explained that Virginia is refining the ability to measure individual learning objects, such as content on iTunes U, against the state’s assessment framework. He said that school districts will be able to look at why some students are doing better than others and evaluate what is going right and what needs to be addressed.

Governor Kaine has visited every school district in the state, gathering feedback and recommendations on how to improve the education system. iTunes U is part of the initiative, as is a mobile math application challenge.

Led by Chopra, the Learning Apps Development Challenge is seeking developers to submit iPhone and iPod touch apps focused on middle school mathematics standards of learning. Apps that deal with fraction computation, proportions, and the relationship between fractions, decimals, and percents are examples of what the state hopes to get from developers.

The application winners will be announced in late June during the National Educational Computing Conference.

“It all starts with a Governor that sets the bar high,” said Chopra. “The Governor’s challenge allowed us to see what were doing well, and where we needed improvement. This is part of the 21st century learning platform that could have a tremendous impact—we have high expectations for this program."

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