iTunes U – the future of education or smart marketing?

Following its launch in early 2006,    iTunes U has just been added to the iTunes store opening up free access to a host of quality educational materials to the wider public (thanks to Andy for the tip). 

Currently iTunesU only involves North American universities; half of which have signed up so far.  One selling point to educators is that it is easy to use and “you won’t need a bit of help from IT” (which says a lot about perceptions of the techy folk in educational institutations – which is not my experience at Bournemouth).

I think this is an interesting development, but I’m not sure if iTunes downloads via the public store are the future of education or if for both Apple and the participating Universities this isn’t just a great way of reaching out to the millions of potential “digital native” students.

There is also apparently the iTunes issue of freedom of usage to consider – with some discussion led by Universities about encription and Digitial Rights Management (DRM) meaning that users can only play files on authorized computers.

I’ve had a quick search in area of communications – and found a couple of interesting podcasts that I can recommend to students.  The immediate problem for me is that the lecturers aren’t natural broadcasters and have a touch of the 1970s Open University television presenter about them – ie great for insomniacs.

If the public relations and marketing potential of using iTunesU to engage with students and other stakeholders is to be realised, dull droning just won’t suffice in new media terms.

So if these works are going to be a shop front for lecturers and Universities, some  vocal and presentational training is in order to make the works a bit more engaging and dynamic. 

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

5 thoughts on “iTunes U – the future of education or smart marketing?”

  1. I’m also busy sorting out hard copies of journalism course work to be put on the colllege computer in a big datebase for the first time. The problem we have is this: we’re not allowed to have access to it after one year of it being scanned and filed. The fact that it is for educational purposes doesn’t seem to apply.

  2. I’m trying to work out how to recommend and direct you to any specific podcasts from iTunes store – leave it with me and I’ll let you know.

    I would think that the only issue over course work is what was agreed with the people who produced it in the first place. Presumably the college has determined a 12 month rule.

  3. IOK, thanks very much.

    A lot of the college work is press cuttings to demonstrate defamation in practise for law lectures and years of research and the like.

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