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UConn joins iTunes U

by Sherry Fisher - February 9, 2009


Students at UConn may soon tune into their iPods for more than just music: They might be listening to a course lecture or watching a lab demonstration.

Thanks to an agreement with the State and Apple, the University will be able to produce free audio and video podcasts of lectures, workshops, PowerPoint presentations, performances and more, and post them for easy access.

The free technology will be offered through what is called iTunes U, accessed online through the iTunes Store.

Keith Barker, associate vice provost and director of the Institute for Teaching and Learning, says the podcasts will be easy for students to find, and can be downloaded to their computers and iPods.

“Faculty can provide supplemental course materials for their students that can be accessed whenever or wherever they are.”

The Institute will provide training for faculty.

The UConn iTunes U will have a restricted-access section with content for the University community, and an unrestricted section for public access.

The partnership offers the University a platform to showcase its faculty, students, and research to the rest of the world, Barker says: “The public iTunes U section can be a tool to raise UConn’s visibility. We can post promotional material, including speeches from Commencement, and other important speakers. It will supplement what we already have on the web site.” The University will have control of what is available to the public.

Gary Hendrickson, director of technology in the Neag School of Education, says the new podcasting agreement is “an opportunity to provide content to our students through a contemporary method that they’re all comfortable and familiar with iPods, iPhones, and other electronic gadgets are already a big part of their lives. Now they’ll be able to download audio and visual course content at their convenience.”

Content can be download to PCs, Macs, or other MP3 devices.

Students may subscribe to a professor’s class and automatically receive podcasts when they log into iTunes U.

A professor’s involvement may be as simple as making an audio recording of all class lectures, but it can make a big difference to a student.

“If a student misses a class, he or she can listen to it anywhere at any time,” Hendrickson says. “Some students, even if they came to class, might want to download a particular lecture to help prepare for a midterm or final. It helps different kinds of learners.”

Once the user has downloaded content, it may be kept in his or her iTunes library.

Hendrickson says the new system will make demonstrations – such as those presented in physical therapy courses – more accessible to students. In the past, certain demonstrations had to be videotaped and students had to get to a lab to watch them. Podcasts retrieved from iTunes U will allow students to view them at their leisure, without leaving their rooms.

UConn is currently creating its iTunes U site, which is expected to be up and running in a few months.

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