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01 December 2017

HACC Celebrates 10th Anniversary with iTunes U

Students across the world have conducted 13,299,400 downloads of HACC’s iTunes classes since 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa. – More than a decade ago, HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, joined Apple®’s iTunes U and forever changed the teaching philosophy of Pauline Chow, senior professor of mathematics, and other College faculty pioneers who embraced reaching beyond the classroom to engage learners on a world stage.

From a pioneer in educational podcasts in early 2007 to the launch of full courses and collections in 2012 and the launch of six iOS-device required courses in fall 2015, HACC has been a forerunner in online education in partnership with Apple®’s iTunes U.

HACC offers 28 complete iTunes U courses and 76 academic collections that cover subjects like math, biology, psychology, history, English, astronomy and accounting.

HACC has reached learners across the world in 155 countries including Mexico, Italy, Australia, Russia and India through iTunes U. “English schools are very expensive in Mexico,” said Georgina, who took one of HACC’s iTunes U courses from her home in Mexico City. “I could not afford school, so when I saw this course, I was excited because I saw an opportunity to learn and practice this incredible language.”

A student in California recently emailed Chow with her gratitude: “…I just want to thank you for your materials and videos! I use your course constantly to get a better understanding of calculus. My calculus teacher is an older man (in 70s) [and] his teaching style is very dry. It’s basically up to the students to figure out the material; he just reads his notes and even does problems from the book. So, Mrs. Chow, you have been my teacher this whole time! If it wasn't for your videos I'd probably be failing the class. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.”
Dozens of HACC Faculty Embraced Apple®’s iTunes U App Early On
“I personally and repeatedly thank Qiquan (Wang) for his vision in bringing the iTunes U to the faculty in 2007 and his patience in educating and training us,” said Chow, who joined HACC in 1984 and now is an adjunct professor in the Virtual Learning program.
Chow and Wang, now the College’s coordinator of mobile learning, are among the dozens of HACC faculty who have embraced Apple®’s iTunes U app to provide free online programs and courses to learners around the globe.
A new generation of HACC faculty continue the College’s stellar tradition of regularly appearing on the cover of the iTunes U page, which lists the current top downloads.
On Nov. 20, 2017, four of HACC’s iTunes courses were among the top 20 listed on the main page of Apple® iTunes U, including Alfred Shia’s three English Essentials series of courses and Rob Swatski’s new course, “A-Plus Anatomy: The Life of a Cell.”
Siha’s “English Essentials” series were selected by Apple® as one of the best courses three years in a row: 

  • Best of 2014— English Essentials: Writing
  • Best of 2015 — English Essentials: Grammar
  • Best of 2016 — English Essentials: Composition
Siha, assistant professor of English at the York Campus, was named a 2015 HACC President’s Award recipient for his efforts in enhancing the College’s reputation through his successful creation and pairing of an iTunes U course and iBook, “English Essentials: Writing.” Siha’s course, which was selected as one of the Top 10 iTunes U courses for 2014, resulted in worldwide course subscription and recognition of the College.
Siha and Swatski are the only community college educators in Pennsylvania to be named Apple® Distinguished Educators. Siha was selected as a member of the Apple® Distinguished Educator Class of 2015, the first time in College history that a HACC faculty member was presented with this honor. Swatski, a science professor at the York Campus, joined the ranks as Apple® Distinguished Educator this year.
Additionally, Siha attended and presented at the 2016 Apple® Distinguished Educator Worldwide Institute in Berlin, Germany, and the 2017 Apple® Distinguished Educator Academy in Houston, Texas.

Content Promotes HACC’s Mission
“HACC’s iTunes U content promotes the true mission of a community college,” said Amy Withrow, associate provost of virtual learning. “It provides access to education for all who seek it.”
HACC added iOS-device required classes in fall 2015. Such a class requires each student to have an iPhone and/or iPad that meets the minimum tech specs. HACC currently offers seven such classes that include both face-to-face and online iOS classes.
“To my knowledge, no institution anywhere has an iOS-device required class in which students use their instructors’ iTunes U course/collection and iBooks textbooks,” said Wang.
“I am passionate about teaching and care about student success in my classroom. Knowing a college student in Iceland or a high school student in Korea can access my course material and succeed in their classes, the thought just gave me goose bumps. Now they can access a complete course, follow the timelines, listen to or watch the lectures, do the homework and take assessments, without setting foot on a physical campus. They can watch the lectures in their pajamas without leaving their home. How cool is that?” Chow wrote in 2012.
Earlier this year, she reflected, “I still remember the day that we were given the iPod for the iTunes U project. … I still remember the morning (in January 2012) that I sat in the car reading the Patriot News with the picture of HACC and five (other) top universities above my first article as a guest columnist. … I am so proud to be the original six HACC faculty who braved the whole new world of podcasting!”
In addition to Chow, the podcasting pioneers were math professors Linda Buckwalter (now retired), Susan Cooper-Nguyen, Jason Rosenberry and Pam Watkins (now retired) and science professor Robert Wagner.
Fact facts:
Qiquan Wang, the records-keeper of HACC’s iTunes U stellar accomplishments, notes these milestones:

  • On Jan. 25, 2007, 32 HACC employees, most of whom were faculty members, started “HACC on iTunes U” pilot that allowed users to download the content for free. Five months later, on June 29, 2007, Apple® introduced the first iPhone. 
  • The number of downloads of HACC’s educational podcasts reached 6.5 million in 2011 with 64 podcast available and included subjects like astronomy, mathematics and literature. 
  • On Jan. 19, 2012, Apple® launched its iTunes U Course Manager, iTunes U App and iBooks. HACC is one of the six pilot members to help launch it. The innovation meant that complete programs can be downloaded or viewed with Apple®’s mobile devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod touch) for free. Each noncredit course comes with the instructor bio, catalog description, learning outcomes, table of contents, assessments and timelines for the assigned work at the users’ pace. The collections can be downloaded from the iTunes Store in the iTunes app on a Mac or Windows computer. Downloads are free but students do not get college credit for completing them. 
  • On Oct 7, 2013, HACC’s Mobile Learning Project kicked off with 23 faculty members working on 20 various projects. This introduced a new cohort of faculty to the iTunes U world and notably broaden the diversity of HACC iTunes U offerings from math and science only to nursing, composition, gerontology, library research, accounting and computer software instruction. 
  • In fall 2015, HACC launched iOS-device required courses. These classes require students to have an iPhone and/or iPad that meets the minimum tech specs for the course. As of spring 2017, HACC has six iOS-device required courses. These courses include both face-to-face and online iOS classes. Students use their own instructors’ iTunes U course or collection and the required iBook. HACC is the only known institution in the world to launch iOS-device required classes.  
  • In January 2017, HACC opened the HawkTech Store, an Apple®-authorized repair center, in the Harrisburg Campus Bookstore and online for students at all HACC campuses. 
  • In September 2017, HACC joined a handful of community colleges in the country in partnership with Apple® to offer a new coding curriculum for students. The course is based on Apple®’s “App Development with Swift” program and will make it easy for individuals to learn how to design, code, test and deploy apps. Students who enroll in and successfully complete the program will have marketable skills that can be applied in a variety of job settings.  
  • HACC’s iTunes U courses and collections have grown tremendously with 13,299,400 downloads since 2012. The College’s iTunes U reach has also grown to include 3,761,662 streams, 6,265,479 visitors and 2,104,009 subscriptions since 2012. 
  • So far in 2017, the number of downloads of HACC’s education podcasts has reached a total of 13,299,400 with 76 podcast collections and 28 full courses. 
  • HACC offers 28 complete iTunes U courses and 76 academic collections that cover subjects like math, biology, psychology, history, English, astronomy and accounting.
  • HACC offers seven iOS device (iPhone or iPad) required classes. The subjects cover algebra, astronomy, anatomy and physiology, business writing, college writing, composition and geology. 
To view HACC’s lists of iTunes U courses and collections, please visit
For more information about iTunes U at HACC, please contact Qiquan Wang at 717-780-2592 or

About HACC
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers more than 100 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), like us on Facebook ( and use #HACCNews.

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