The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



iTunes U set to offer class content on Web

Laura McCrystal | Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Last week, Notre Dame announced the launch of iTunes U, a partnership with Apple that allows schools to offer multimedia content on the Web, according to Todd Woodward, associate vice president for marketing communications.

The recently launched site is open to the public and features a variety of content about every aspect of Notre Dame, Woodward said.

“I would say that there is a great desire on the part of alumni and the general public to learn more about what is going on at Notre Dame,” he said. “So we have a great opportunity. People look to us on a religious front, they look to us on an academic front and they look to us on an athletic front.”

iTunes U is just one mode of communication available through the Internet, Woodward said.

“I think the future of communications for Notre Dame is gathering that content, storing it in a place that’s safe, and choosing the correct distribution outlets to push the information out to people,” he said. “The beauty of iTunes is you can put a lot of stuff up.”

Woodward said the University created and collected content for iTunes U for nearly a year because they wanted to have a wide variety when they launched the site.

“I think it’s an evolutionary process so we start out with a base level of content in iTunes,” he said. “I think it will just grow and keep growing as we go along.”

The content itself is left up to the individual colleges and departments, Woodward said. He said as more time passes, each college will be able to judge which content is most popular and effective for them to develop, which will be a wide variety.

Woodward said he has only heard positive feedback about iTunes U thus far, but it is too soon to judge the success of the site.

“We won’t be able to measure anything for a couple of months,” he said. “We’re hopeful that people find us out there and enjoy it.”

Paul Turner, academic technology services manager for the Office of Information Technologies (OIT), said the University began working with Apple in January to develop Notre Dame’s iTunes U. He also met with people who planned iTunes U at other universities.

“Apple has been reviewing our site and offering suggestions,” he said. “Really I’ve gotten more input from other universities similar to Notre Dame, places like Duke and Emory.”
A different iTunes U site, available only to students, faculty and staff at Notre Dame, will offer material for specific classes and feature content by student groups, Turner said. Access to this private site will require a netID and password.

Some professors have already used iTunes U in their classes, Turner said. This semester, the introductory chemistry class for freshmen as well as some engineering and Film, Television and Theatre classes have used iTunes U.

Sophomore Walker Anderson, chair of student government’s campus technologies committee, said the private side of iTunes U will launch for use by on-campus student groups early in the spring semester.

“It enables students to share multimedia content and enables students to advertise their groups and what they do to the rest of the student body,” he said. “It’s a great resource for students to share the content that they generate.”

When this site launches, Anderson said student government plans to advertise and organize a competition between student groups to produce the best content. The competition would add incentive to explore and use the site, he said.

Anderson said student government has been working with the Student Activities Office (SAO) and OIT to develop iTunes U as a resource for student groups.

“Our role came down to making sure student content had a way to get on iTunes U and making sure student content is generated for iTunes U,” he said. “We’re excited for it and we’re looking forward to the launch.”