Recently, Apple announced that they would be discontinuing support for the iTunes U app and the corresponding service. Since all prior TTJ courses have made use of iTunes U as our learning management system (LMS), it has become necessary for us to select an alternative LMS solution for our current and future students. After months of research, testing, and careful consideration, we have chosen Google Classroom as our new Learning System for all students going forward. Please read this entire post to learn how this will impact you and what steps, if any, you need to take.
What Is Happening and Why?
Apple has announced that they are sun setting their iTunes U offering next year. This means that the app will no longer be available or supported for use after spring 2021, and those who have previously used iTunes U will need to find an alternative solution for their learning management system (LMS). The exact reason for this decision was not disclosed to the public, but we know for certain that Apple maintains an intense focus on, and an incredible passion for, revolutionizing education. Already, they have great offerings for school districts, such as Apple School Manager, Apple Schoolwork, and the Apple Classroom app, the latter of which is available for local, in-person classes. They have stated that they plan to continue support for these products and continue to enhance said products going forward.
What Will TTJ Use Now?
The Tech Juggernaut has elected to use Google Classroom for all future TTJ courses. This change will happen effective immediately. Students who plan to enroll in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 courses will be using Google Classroom – not iTunes U, for all their class content.
When Will the Change Occur?
This change will happen effective immediately. Students who plan to enroll in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 courses will be using Google Classroom – not iTunes U, for all their class content.
If iTunes U will be supported through spring 2021, why not use it one more year?
At TTJ, we always try to remain on the cutting edge of technology, and to be as forward-thinking and future-proof as possible. While we have been extremely fond of iTunes U, Apple has made it clear that iTunes U will be deprecated as of next year. So, we feel that it would be irresponsible and lacking in forethought if we were to ask more students to become invested in a solution that will not be around after next year. If Apple is ready to move on, then so are we, and we believe we have the tools and the resources necessary to make that happen in a positive and seamless way – keeping the transition smooth for existing students, and providing the same robust experience for all future ones.
Why Google? Why Not Apple Schoolwork?
At the present time, Apple Schoolwork is only available to accredited educational institutions. While TTJ is made up of certified instructors, we are neither an accredited K-12 district nor a college or university, and are therefore not eligible to use the Schoolwork app at this time. We are fiercely interested in what Apple will offer going forward and certainly do plan to consider it if we should be given such an opportunity, but in the interim, in order to provide an uninterrupted experience for all our students, we needed a solution that was available to us immediately.
Furthermore, we feel that Google Classroom, perhaps more than any other third-party LMS app, provides a powerful yet extremely simple user interface with the right combination of functionality and ease of use for even those students who are completely new to Voiceover and iOS. Finally, if new students are not yet comfortable using their iOS devices, they will be able to access Google Classroom on other platforms, such as Chrome OS and Windows, until they become more confident in using Voiceover and iOS/iPad OS.
I am a current or past student? What about the hours of content from previous courses?
Content from prior courses, such as iPad For All Computing 2020, will remain available exactly where it has been in iTunes U, through December 31, 2020. At that time, all existing TTJ iTunes U courses will be taken down for organizational reasons. Students wishing to retrieve existing audio recordings, documents, web links, and more from previous iTunes U courses should be sure to do so before December 31, 2020. Use the below instructions to access and save materials. We strongly suggest creating a folder for materials in iCloud Drive, but you can also save files to local device storage, Dropbox, Google Drive, and even external flash drives or remote servers. If you are unable to successfully save your desired content, you may contact TTJ to request a ZIP file of all class materials from your particular class, sent to you as a link via email. Alternatively, you may purchase a flash drive with all desired materials for a modest fee.
How Do I Save Materials I Want to Keep?
To save desired materials, be sure you have a strong, preferably Wi-Fi, internet connection, and perform the following steps:
- Open the iTunes U app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.
- Tap the Account button to sign in with your Apple ID, and enter your password if prompted.
- Open the desired course, then selected the Materials tab at the bottom of the screen.
- If you wish, filter the list of materials by type, such as audio recordings or documents, else you may choose All to view all materials.
- Swipe through the list of available materials, and tap the Download button to the right of any materials you wish to keep. If no Download button exists, proceed to the next step.
- Tap on the More Info button to the right of the file you want, then choose, “Open In Another App”, from the context menu.
- Select a desired app. For example, you may wish to open a Pages document in the Pages app. Or, choose “Save to Files”, to store the file in a desired location without opening it in another app.
If you open the file in another app, it is typically saved automatically, else you will be presented with saving and exporting options.
Regarding personal recommendations, we suggest saving audio recordings to a folder on iCloud Drive, saving text files to a folder or adding them to a Note, copying Pages to the Pages app, downloading recommended books using the Apple Books app, visiting suggested web links in Safari, then adding them to Bookmarks or Favorites, and visiting suggested YouTube videos using the YouTube, then adding them to “Liked Videos”, or creating a video playlist with the desired videos. Any recommended apps can also be installed on your devices if you so desire.
If you are unable to successfully save your desired content, you may contact TTJ to request a ZIP file of all class materials from your particular class, sent to you as a link via email. Alternatively, you may purchase a flash drive with all desired materials for a modest fee.
Will these changes affect future live sessions?
No, all live sessions will continue to be held using the Zoom Cloud Meetings platform. This change only impacts the content management, not the Zoom live teaching sessions.
Will these changes affect TTJ Virtual Help Sessions?
No, all live sessions will continue to be held using the Zoom Cloud Meetings platform. This change only impacts the content management, and Virtual Help Sessions never used any sort of content management system anyway. This change does not impact the Zoom live Hellp Sessions.
How will this change impact course registration and future students?
It won’t. Again, there will be no impact on future students whatsoever. Course registration for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 courses will proceed as planned and will officially open tomorrow, August 14, 2020. All students will be set up to use Zoom and Google Classroom from the outset, so no extra steps will be required.
What will I need to use Google Classroom?
All students who plan to enroll in the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 courses, or any other future courses, will simply need to create a Gmail account. Gmail is completely free, and you can create a new Gmail address directly on your iOS device by going to Settings>Passwords and Accounts>Add Account>Google, and following the instructions. If you already have a Gmail account, you do not need to create a new one. You may use your existing Gmail address with Google Classroom, except in the case of restricted Gmail accounts as described below.
In addition to creating, or signing into, an existing Gmail account, you will want to download the Google Classroom app for free on your device of choice. For iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users, the app is fully accessible with Voiceover, and TTJ will provide an introduction to the app at the beginning of the training season.
What is a Restricted Gmail Address, and what if I have one?
These are usually only issued by school districts or corporations. If you have a restricted Gmail address, you may not be able to join our courses using that account. If you created your own personal Gmail address, you have nothing to worry about, because you don’t have a restricted address. If you suspect you might have a restricted address, simply create your own personal Gmail address, directly on your iOS device from Settings as described above, or by visiting Gmail.Com. Your personal Gmail account will have no problem joining our courses. You may have more than one active Gmail account configured on your device at a time.
Since you’re now using Google Classroom, can I assume you’ll be using Docs and other Google apps as well?
No, absolutely not. At TTJ, we love Apple, and we strongly prefer all of their hardware, software, and services. While anyone is welcome to use any app they choose, we will not be teaching Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, the Gmail app, etc. we will continue teaching, and recommending, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, the Apple Mail app, and so on. We will only be using the Google Classroom app, and we may encourage students who wish to offload class content to download the Google Drive app, as it is the only means to do so.
My question was not answered above.
Please send all additional questions to us via the Contact Page, or feel free to ask at our next Virtual Help Session.