Emory Report
March 3, 2008
Volume 60, Number 22

Listen up
Attend an iTunes U informational session hosted by Emory’s Centers for Interactive Teaching.

“iTunes U: An Intro
and Orientation.”
March 18, 10–11 a.m.; April 11, 3 p.m.– 4 p.m. Woodruff Library, ECIT Classroom 214

“iTunes U: A Faculty Perspective.”
March 24, 12–1:30 p.m. Woodruff Library, ECIT Classroom 215

“Podcasting: How To.” March 25, 10–11:30 a.m. Woodruff Library, ECIT Classroom 214

Visit www.itunes.emory.edu for a first look at the iTunes at Emory structure.

Emory Report homepage  

March 3, 2008
Plugging into iTunes U

By Kim Urquhart

When anthropology lecturer Ben Freed is listening to music on his iPod, he says it is sometimes startling to hear on the next track the sound of his own voice. Freed is among a handful of Emory professors whose podcasted lectures are being piloted on iTunes U, an Apple initiative that hosts a repository for colleges and universities to distribute digital content.

Emory is beta testing an internal, iTunes U site accessible by those with an Emory login ID. and password. Students can search, download and play course content just like they do music, movies and TV shows, and Emory users can access materials the University is continuing to upload.

“Since launching in January, we are averaging 400 downloads per week,” says Shannon O’Daniel of Emory’s Center for Interactive Teaching (ECIT). O’Daniel coordinates the internal portal of iTunes U and is gathering feedback and best practices from faculty, staff and students.

“iTunes U is very easy to use and access,” says Emory College junior Alicia Kielmovitch who tunes into Freed’s podcasts for two of her courses. “It has been a great study device.”

Students in Freed’s Anthropology 201 Lab, for example, are learning how to analyze behavorial data by creating pivot tables in Excel. To do so, they open Excel, plug into the automatically downloaded podcast, and the audio track “walks them through step by step,” Freed says. Students can review the podcast as often as needed.

Freed, who has made teaching with MP3s through educational sites like Blackboard “standard issue” for his courses, finds iTunes U to be an easier interface. He considers Blackboard and iTunes to be valuable resources, and uses them in concert as an effective teaching tool.

Since using the technology, Freed has noticed a drop in office hour visits. “A lot of those simple sorts of questions get taken care of very effectively” through these supplementary visual and audio materials, he says.

To build content, Emory is currently accepting requests to contribute materials to iTunes U. While ECIT is evaluating best practices for capturing lectures, an advisory group is forming to develop guidelines on securing rights for digital distribution.

Campus Life groups are among those experimenting with iTunes U beta. “Our first foray into the world of podcasting was a lot easier than expected,” says Tina Chang, director of communications and web development for residence life and housing, whose podcast series offers tips for resident assistants.
ECIT offers free introductory workshops on how to use iTunes — which in addition to iPods can be accessed through any computer and nearly every portable device — as well as how to create podcasts. For those who need it, ECIT offers post-production assistance and studio space in its Woodruff Library headquarters.

Emory is currently building the public side of the site, projected to go live within the year. The public portal offers visiting learners the opportunity to browse the digital material that is being shared, from play-by-play sports announcements to special lectures and poetry readings.

Chang in Residence Life, for example, hopes to use the public portal to introduce incoming students to campus housing options.

“iTunes U represents a unique opportunity for Emory,” says Alan Cattier, director of academic technology services in Academic and Administrative Information Technology. “Not only does it offer our community an approach to more fully participate in the range of inspiring and exciting events around campus, but also offers Emory a virtual front door, which, along with the Web site, invites the digital traveler inside to see the best our community has to offer.”