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TASA joins iTunes U, offering free course content to transform Texas teaching, learning

The Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) today announced the launch of TASA on iTunes U to help transform Texas teaching and learning by providing course content for classroom teachers in the four core subject areas of mathematics, science, social studies and English language arts.

With more than 1 billion downloads, iTunes U is the world's largest online catalog of free educational content that helps educators create courses, including lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and syllabi, and offers them to millions of iOS users around the world. The exponential increase in iPad implementations in Texas school districts, coupled with the need for educators to redesign instruction that empowers students, facilitates their understanding, and creates engaging experiences, prompted TASA to launch this initiative.

In the first phase of this initiative, to be completed by June 1, TASA on iTunes U will provide course content for a set of 18 high school courses that are fully aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), free and accessible anywhere. This content—designed by teachers, for teachers—will foster creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills in an engaging, digitally-rich learning environment for Texas students, with special emphasis on high priority learning standards.

"In order to prepare our public school students for success after high school, learning must occur through a variety of digital pathways that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and at any pace. It is imperative that we seamlessly integrate digital devices, global connections, and flexible student-centered learning environments. TASA on iTunes U is a perfect vehicle for this to occur," said TASA Executive Director Johnny Veselka.

The course content for four high school courses, Pre-Calculus, Biology, World Geography, and English II, is being debuted today. Content for the remaining 14 high school courses is under development. 

A total of 58 classroom teachers and content specialists, across 14 Texas school districts, are collaborating with TASA in the course and content development. TASA on iTunes U will make it easy for teachers to find and include high quality digital content from the App Store, iBookstore, and iTunes Store, as well as videos and other web-based sources that align with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

The participating districts include:

  • Allen ISD
  • Clear Creek ISD
  • College Station ISD
  • Coppell ISD
  • Decatur ISD
  • Duncanville ISD
  • Eanes ISD
  • Harlingen CISD
  • Lake Travis ISD
  • Lewisville ISD
  • Mansfield ISD
  • McAllen ISD
  • Northwest ISD
  • Rockwall ISD

"I use iTunes U as a platform for teaching my courses and I love the way it offers a road map of what we will be doing in class but also gives students resources at their fingertips to facilitate learning," said Mansfield High School teacher Chrissy Boydstun.

This TASA initiative to expand classroom technology and foster a digitally-rich learning environment was born, in part, from the transformational spirit of public school superintendents who came together to create a new vision for public education. Additionally, the newly-formed Texas High Performance Schools Consortium has embraced the principles and premises outlined in the document Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas (TASA, 2008) and the Consortium participants believe it is essential to embrace and seize technology's potential to capture the hearts and minds of today’s students.

"TASA on iTunes U provides the missing link to technology integration in the classroom. The promise and potential that technology holds for maximizing learning is unleashed by the interactive and engaging activities aligned with the TEKS and developed by Texas teachers. This is just the beginning of opening up a new world of resources for our high school teachers to assist them in transforming their classrooms into places of student centered learning," said Coppell ISD superintendent Jeff Turner.

The project launch will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. today at the Hilton Garden Inn, 500 N. I-35, Austin, in the top-floor Eighteenth over Austin restaurant, with the TASA on iTunes U presentation beginning at 6 p.m. Teachers and superintendents involved with the project will be on hand to take questions immediately following the presentation.