iLearning with iTunesU? RSC Wales Teaching and Learning Blog

At last weeks FOTE09 event I heard about Oxford University’s experiences of using iTunes U during Peter Robinson’s presentation ‘A Pocket University: Open Content and Mobile Technology’. “But what is iTunes U?” I hear (some of) you cry … as I did the first time I heard the word/term/phrase. Very simply, in Apple’s own words, ‘iTunes U is a digital campus that never sleeps and can be reached from anywhere’ and ‘it gives any university or college a single home for all the audio and video course materials that faculty create or curate’ plus ‘it also makes it simple for students to find and download just what they’re looking for.’

iPod/iPhone/iTunes/Apple fans might be cheering at this point but I can also hear the sceptics crying ‘what about those who don’t have/like/use iPods/iPhones/iTunes?’ and ‘why would you hand all of your content to a third party?’ … which I must admit I also thought too when I first heard about iTunes U a few months ago. However, as with many of the presentations at FOTE09, Peter Robinson’s explanation of why and how iTunes U works for the Oxford University students and staff has made me think again … hence this blog.

What I heard about iTunes U was:

  • Universities have lots of good stuff to support teaching and learning but they aren’t all great at (a) telling people it’s good (b) making it easy for those who know about the good stuff to find it  … iTunes U can help.
  • The content can be stored on your own servers … you don’t have to hand it all over to Apple
  • You can also have a web portal … which allows access to all of the resources without having to go through iTunes
  • It’s free
  • The audio can be MP3 and the video can be MPEG4 … not proprietary Apple formats
  • With structured and guided support staff can create content to share relatively easily and quickly … and students can too
  • Cross departmental sharing and working on a project like this can break down some of the barriers that may exist
  • The legal side of who owns what and can share what with whom can be tricky but it can be overcome
  • Marketing is a key to getting the students and staff on board … and Apple even have promotional advice for you on this

From Oxford University’s point of view (according to Peter Robinson) it has all been worth it. Here are few stats to support its success:

  • 1 000 000 downloads and a number 1 hit in less than a year
  • 2 500 downloads per week for popular feeds
  • 956 items in 186 podcast feeds
  • 90% of the downloads via iTunes, 10% via the parallel web portal

more stats and information are available via the FOTE09 presentation or from the iTunes U at Oxford web portal, http://www.ox.ac.uk/itunes_u.

In my subsequent quest to find out more about the use of iTunes U, I came across this briefing paper from The University of Edinburgh about their new and developing presence on iTunes U … if you want to know a bit more, then this is worth looking at (imo).

So now I am going to spend a bit of time looking at the content on the Oxford University iTunes U and the iTunes U’s of the other Universities … The Open University, Coventry, Warwick, Brimingham City, UCL, Trinity College Dublin to name but a few of those from the British Isles. I could look at the content on my laptop but for a true test of how mobile my learning could be I shall download a selection to an iPod and see what I learn :-)

Tags: , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009 at 4:54 pm and is filed under Learning Technology, elearning, mobile learning. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

This gives me a bona fide excuse to play with my iPod touch in working hours!!

Posted via web from SWW TEL Picks