AU using iTunes to take teaching beyond classroom

AUBURN – Ask students what is on their iPods and you will likely hear a wide-ranging list from all musical genres as well as various types of video clips. Soon, however, Auburn students could add to their lists lectures and presentations from their classes thanks to a collaborative program between the university and Apple called AU iTunes.

“It’s the perfect way to distribute podcasts,” said Kathy McClelland, manager of AU’s Instructional Multimedia Group.
Through AU iTunes, campus groups can post information including presentations, performances, lectures, demonstrations, debates, tours and archival footage and make the information available for download.

The program is based on Apple’s popular online iTunes Store, where millions of people already download music, movies and television shows. However, unlike the iTunes Store, which charges a fee for most downloadable items, AU iTunes provides educational content for free.

There are two main components to the AU iTunes program – public access and private access. Through the public access component, information posted to AU iTunes is available to anyone around the world.

This is currently the only component available at AU. McClelland said campus administrators are working toward making the private component available sometime this spring. Through the private component, which will be integrated with AU Access, students will see special channels reflecting the courses they are taking when they open AU iTunes. Their professors can then load course-related information such as notes and lectures onto these channels.

“It is important to note that the AU iTunes program is not intended to replace any classroom instruction,” McClelland said. “It is another tool to enhance and reinforce what students are learning in class.”

Students in AU’s Rehabilitation Counseling master’s program in the College of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation and Special Education are already familiar with the concept behind AU iTunes. This distance education program has been using podcasts to provide its students with supplementary information such as study guides since 2005. Dawn Browning, the academic program administrator who provides technical and administrative support to the program, said she has previously distributed the podcasts to students through regular iTunes but plans to start using AU iTunes in the spring.

“I love the concept,” she said. “We have been using regular iTunes and it works beautifully. I think AU iTunes will be even more secure and user-friendly.”

The applications for AU iTunes are endless as the program is compatible with both Macs and PCs.

Additionally, McClelland said, you do not have to have an iPod, Apple’s popular MP3 player, to take advantage of AU iTunes. The information can be downloaded and viewed on any computer that runs the free iTunes software.

McClelland said many people on AU’s campus are eager to begin using the AU iTunes program.

“I think that faculty will find that podcasts of narrated PowerPoint presentations will be very popular,” McClelland said.

She worked with the AU iTunes Steering Committee, chaired by Susan Bannon, director of the Learning Resources Center, for the past 18 months creating policies, finishing background work and interacting with people at Apple before going live with the program last week.

Currently, the College of Agriculture, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education have posted material in AU iTunes.

McClelland said management of AU’s iTunes channels will be distributed to each college, school or campus group so that these individual constituencies can be in charge of their own content. She added that the Instructional Multimedia Group has resources available to teach faculty and staff how to do podcasting.

AU joins universities such as Stanford, Penn State, University of California Berkley, Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M in providing an iTunes U program.

Visit AU iTunes at http://itunes.auburn.edu.

For more information, contact your department’s information technology coordinator or call the Instructional Multimedia Group at 844-5181.

Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu), or
Katie Wilder, (334) 844-9999 (wildeka@auburn.edu)