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iTunes U collects, distributes educational media

Megan Doyle | Thursday, April 15, 2010

 Launched in October 2009, the Notre Dame iTunes U database now provides students, faculty and alumni access to more than 1,000 video and audio files, said Paul Turner, academic technology services manager for the Office of Information Technologies (OIT).

Apple engineered iTunes U to collect and distribute educational media to students and teachers at universities around the world, according to the Apple Web site.
“I think this provides another channel for us to tell Notre Dame’s story and share the intellectual community that we have here,” said Julie Flory, associate director for the Office of News and Information. 
While the initiative is still in the initial stages of its development, Flory said the response has been positive, and members of the campus community are interested in viewing the available materials and contributing to iTunes U.
“I think that the student body will appreciate having access to recordings of events on campus,” campus technology chair Casey Cockerham said.
Cockerham said the public component of iTunes U is geared toward helping the University “broadcast its image outward” for alumni and prospective students, but that the private component to be accessed with a NetID and password is more student-oriented.
“The hope is that this whole iTunes U project will give us a start towards an open courseware system,” Cockerham said.
Universities such as Stanford and MIT have lectures and other course materials available online, he said, and iTunes U could be a helpful tool for students to use outside the classroom to catch up or review information.
“Professors like [iTunes U] because they can put all of their video and audio in one place in a way that is more efficient than Concourse,” Turner said. “And students like it because it is easy to sync up with iTunes for course material.”
 Turner said several professors from the College of Science and the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT) have used iTunes U to supplement audio and video resources with in-class work. He cited chemistry professor James Johnson and FTT professor Ted Mandell as two consistent contributors to the database.
Turner said student work has been critical to the initiative and undergraduate projects contributed to about 50 percent of the development of iTunes U.
“I want to continue to challenge students to step up and be a part of the ownership of this project,” he said.
Cockerham said the challenges in launching iTunes U mainly stem from the difficulty of assembling content from all over campus into a central location, as well as monitoring the content that will be presented on the site.
Cockerham said while student knowledge of the program is limited, he hopes to see it expand in the near future as the more “student-centered” aspects are developed. 
“Once the private side is established, we will especially be able to reach out to clubs and student groups so they can begin to use iTunes U,” he said.
Popular downloads have included the Last Lecture series sponsored by student government and the videos from the Student Film Festival.
“The Last Lecture series that has been promoted by student government is something that I would like to watch,” Cockerham said. “Now I can go and find something on iTunes that I missed.”
Students can access Notre Dame on iTunes U by visiting itunes.nd.edu and selecting the “Launch iTunes U” icon.