iTunes U: A new way to learn
Apple Computers Inc. has become one of the most successful companies in
the world since the launch of its iPod and iTunes franchises.
And its popularity may rise even more with the introduction of
iTunes U, a nationwide service that makes course lectures and other
educational materials accessible through iTunes software.
The University of Michigan is the first campus in the state to use
the service at its School of Dentistry.
“It started out as basically a pilot,” said Dennis Lopatin, senior
associate dean at UM’s School of Dentistry. “We talked to students,
video taped lectures and offered them as video on the web and audio
files. The students got really excited about the whole project.”
A UM student in 2004 first came up with the idea to launch three
pilot studies on recording lectures.
The Informatics department at the university wrote software to
convert lectures to mp3s and uploaded them to a server.
“Apple created an iTunes store for us after we created the
software,” Lopatin said. “They kicked in the kind support for this
program and definitely were a partner in its development.”
The program was made available to the entire dental school in
September of 2005, making it easier for students to access classroom
With iTunesU, students can subscribe to lectures at no charge – much
like a magazine subscription.
The program costs UM about $1,000 a year, which covers costs
associated with personnel and creating and uploading files.
“It is really an advantage for the students in the School of
Dentistry,” said Lynn Johnson, director of dentistry informatics and
information technology at UM. “The dentistry program has a lot of
information, especially within the first two years. Students often miss
information in class and have incomplete notes and this helps them make
sure they get all the pertinent information.”
Johnson said UM professors do not have any problems with students
missing classes because of the availability of the lectures.
CMU’s current program, Blackboard Academic Learning Suite, has the
ability to put lectures online.
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