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 FairPlay 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.