U of M on iTunes
By Benjamin Neeser
November 18, 2008
Every day on the University of Minnesota's campuses, incredible things are happening. The U plays host to world renowned scholars and guest lecturers and is graced by talented performers of drama and music. Faculty and students engage in fascinating discussions about bioethics, plant genetics, climate change, and any number of topics that act upon the world-wide-stage. Now, thanks to an exciting new partnership between the University of Minnesota and Apple, the U's dynamic content will be included in the global Apple iTunes Store, where it will be accessible from anywhere. The partnership is called iTunes U. It's a section of the iTunes store where users can download educational content from universities around the world and view it on their computer or portable media player (such as an iPod). All units and departments are invited to submit content to the U of M iTunes U public site. Value to the University The partnership with Apple provides the University a global platform to showcase the institution's exceptional faculty, staff, and students, and the exciting work, research, and events that occur systemwide. In addition, the University can use iTunes U to privately share content and course materials with members of the campus community. What can it do? Because so many people are already using iPods and iTunes, iTunes U is an excellent way to deliver audio and video podcasts about anything going on at the University. Perhaps most importantly, iTunes U is extremely useful as an educational technology, as it enables instructors to post class lectures or other educational content of value to students. But its uses are broad: iTunes U can also disseminate general interest content to the entire campus and beyond (for example, faculty lectures, guest lectures or interviews, music, performances, sports, and other campus events).
The University actually has two different sites on iTunes. The first site is access-restricted, so it is only available to U students, faculty, staff, and guests. This site contains the content that is specifically of interest to the U community, such as course content. On the second site, the public site, worldwide audiences can view and download the U's digital content to learn more about life on campus or to research topics that are of personal interest to them. Course Related Content Faculty can use iTunes U to deliver course-related content to students enrolled in their courses. The content can include simple audio recordings of class lectures or carefully produced videos. To share course lectures, instructors simply follow these steps: 1. request a course podcast on iTunes U 2. use a microphone that is hooked up to a computer or other storage device to record a class lecture or record a video presentation from a webcam at their computer 3. upload the audio or video recording to the iTunes Web site. Users then go to itunes.umn.edu and sign in to the access-restricted site. Once in the access-restricted site, they will see content for the courses in which they are enrolled in the My Courses section. Students can download the content to mobile devices such as iPods, or watch and listen to the course content on their computer. News, Events, Research, and Scholarship In addition to increasing the accessibility of course content, iTunes will also increase the visibility of the University throughout the State of Minnesota and the world. The public iTunes U site will help to generate broad exposure for the University's exceptional faculty, students, and staff, by showcasing the exciting work, research, and events that come from the University. For example, U of M Crookston is using iTunes U to share video of students doing field research on the den of a black bear. And the School of Public Health is using it to share public lectures on such topics as "Bioethics and Moral Pluralism," and "Race and Eugenics." Getting Started The University offers an incredible wealth of resources to help instructors learn how to teach with technology such as iTunes U and get over some of the technical hurdles. First, OIT's Digital Media Center offers faculty development programs and consultation services to help instructors plan, design, and evaluate their courses and curricula that make use of educational technologies such as iTunes U. Faculty at Crookston should contact the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. Faculty at Duluth should contact Information Technology Systems and Services. The Morris campus has two offices: Computing Services and Media Services.
In addition, the SMART Learning Commons on the second floor of Walter Library (Twin Cities) offers an array of technology resources to help faculty get started. Faculty and students can check out digital audio and video equipment, and staff there can help edit your audio and video to get it ready for podcasting. There are many other resources at the University to assist faculty and departments in creating content for iTunes U. Check with a college to discover the many instructional technology resources available. In addition, the iTunes U support site has a help forum with content populated by experts from across the campuses. For more information about the forum, requesting an iTunes U site, recording and uploading podcasts, or for guidelines about submitting content to the public site, visit the U of M iTunes U support site.