WEB EXTRA: iTunesU continues to expand class lecture podcasts

University officials hope to have nearly 30 classes using iTunes to broadcast lectures on students’ iPods by next semester.

The Apple iTunes U program chose GW as a pilot school last fall for its new program to broadcast professors’ lectures on the portable music devices. University officials said the program will expand at GW, increasing podcasting capabilities and offering more lectures online by next fall.

Fourteen courses, a combination of both graduate and undergraduate classes and ranging from Spanish to marketing, are now utilizing the technology, said P.B. Garrett, assistant vice president of Academic Technologies.

Garrett says that the goal is to double the number of classes using the program by next semester. Academic Technologies is also working with other GW departments to determine if they would like to add content to the GW iTunesU program, she said.

Students are able to download lectures recorded in their classes onto their computers and their iPods. All content downloaded within iTunesU is free. Students are also able to upload content on the program to share with their professors and classmates and can access the podcasts through course management software like Blackboard.

Garrett pointed to the success of Spanish classes utilizing the program.

“(Spanish Professors) are giving their students assignments to record themselves speaking in Spanish with assignments in computer labs around campus, and uploading the content to iTunes U,” Garrett said.

Garrett added that because iTunes U is “still in a pilot stage” it is unknown if grades or attendance has been affected, but so far she has received “excellent feedback from both faculty and students utilizing it.” Critics say attendance will suffer if students can access lectures online.

Barbara Miller, professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, incorporated iTunes U into her Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class last semester. Miller estimates that approximately one-third of her students used the program.

“I often ran into students on the street who told me that they were listening to my class and that some of them even had their friends listen to some of the lectures,” Miller said.

Freshmen Cecelia Blute took Millers’ class last semester and said that the iTunes U technology was a reliable aide. “(iTunesU) allows people who missed class out of necessity to get the same experience.”

Academic Technologies staff is interested in expanding iTunes U to smaller classrooms so that both large and small lecture courses can utilize the program.

Other colleges using the iTunes U technology include the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Pennsylvania State, Arizona State University and Florida Institute of Technology.

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