Friday, 5 December 2008

iTunes U

After a bumpy start, (my PC deciding it wanted to enjoy a long weekend and giving up the goat) this morning turned out to be a rather informative and constructive one…

I attended a meeting fronted by Paul McFadden (head of sales for Apple iTunes in Europe) to discuss a new piece of technology called iTunes U. And what is iTunes U I hear you ask? Well, iTunes U is just like iTunes but for educational content – so lecturers within the university could create podcasts/videocasts relating to their courses and make them available in a LJMU branded iTunes store. Students can then subscribe to the content that is produced for their modules. Subscriptions to playlists can either be password protected (which is synced to the universities username and password facility) or public facing; the advantage of allowing external access (ie access from non-students) is that the profile of the university is raised each time an external person accesses or downloads content that is produced within the institution. A prime example of this being Joseph Stiglitz’s podcast about the credit crunch at The University of Oxford which now occupies the number one spot in the global iTunes U top download chart thanks to its popularity – now I know The University of Oxford does’t need their profile raising any further but the idea and indication of what a successful podcast could do for an institution is there all the same!!

All the content that is produced for the store is held on campus by the university (Apple do not have a hold on any content) and there isn’t a cost to the students for accessing the material. The costing to the university comes through staffing and the time spent to produce the content in the first place but apart from that it’s plain sailing.

A prime example of an iTunes U store that’s an extremely high standard is that of the OU –check it out – it is very slick!!

So what’s for the future here at LJMU? Well as of yet I’m not sure but hopefully iTunes U will be embraced by the university enabling us to provide podcasts/videocasts to students in an easy to use and scalable way.


  1. Does iTunes U offer anything more than any other podcasting software can?
    I don't like the way that Apple tries to tie users into thier ITunes software.

    I like the idea of podcasting course content though.

  2. iTunes U offers us, as an institution, the ability to have a specially designed repository for any content produced in the form of podcast or videoscasts, branded with the LJMU nametag that can not only be accessed by our students, but also by people from all over the world if that content is made public.

    The major benefit to our students is the ability to go to one place, that is usable and intuitive, in order to retrieve downloads relating to their course - at the moment Blackboard is the only place that allows for this.

  3. Valerie Stevenson16 December 2008 at 17:00

    Very interesting - I've been using the existing University content on ITunes for a while but this new service offers a bit more - I'd have concerns too about Apple "owning" the LJMU content. Enjoying your blog Vicki, it's a great way to keep up with project developments,

  4. I was suitably impressed with i-Tunes U as well. I take Andrew's point about Apple monopoly, but it is more about getting the educational content / output onto the platforms that the learners are using anyway!

    As our LDU cvolleagues pointed out, we already have plenty of MP3 content, and some lecturers who deliver content to their students through homemade MP3 files. Hosting them on i-Tunes U would just be another way of getting this to the students. The ease of use and the way in which i-Tunes autmoatically syncs and feeds poscasts to users' ipods may be another benefit. Although again, as Andrew points out, there are other forms of podcasting software solutions that can do this too.

    I hope LDU look into setting LJMU up with an i-Tunes U platform.