Scotland teaching agency LTS launches iTunes U
I'm pleased to see that former colleagues in Learning and Teaching Scotland have managed to get their LTS iTunes U site opened, following our friends at the Open University. Scotland heads out as the first iTunes U provider of professional development material podcasts for those working with 3-18 year olds.
It's not been an easy journey. In 2005, on joining LTS to head up their Modern Languages work, I challenged the organisation to get podcasting (audio) the entire Scottish Learning Festival contents, and video as much as possible. Four years on we're still not able to access good quality recordings of everything, despite the costs of doing so being derisory and the long-tail interest being high - just take a look at the figures viewing what might be conceived as obscure education topics on the Slideshare site I created for the event.
We also had a challenge getting more audio and video material out in subsequent years through the now-defunkt Connected Live site, intended to be an evolution of the print magazine with media-rich addition to the limits of the atom presented by the magazine. Arguably, as with all social media projects in the large, it took two years for the culture to change sufficiently for blogging one's experiences to be seen as part and parcel of one's work, not a geeky pass-time. Mike Coulter along with Saint Andrew of Brown and others have continued to develop that culture slowly and successfully over the past year. We now have an education agency with elements that have moved the organisation from its glossy corporate sheen, to a more 'honest', approachable voice.
LTS's involvement with iTunes U is part of that evolution, and signifies a small victory for those of us who had been pushing for some more budget and effort to be spent on bite-sized professional development designed for small mobile screens, at a time when there was no YouTube or video podcast device.
The organisation's biggest challenge is to make sure it does not become the voice of the marketer or a self-referential poster-child for the politics of education, but a place where grassroots honesty and constructive reflection on our teaching and learning practice can be amplified.