‘Nova now on iTunes U

Jeffrey Eisenberg

Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes U, originally slated to be available on campus at the beginning of this semester, is now in action and ready for Villanova.

Villanova is one school participating in this pilot program with the new technology, which was approved by the University and Apple this past spring.

“We were ready, but there were delays in when Apple was ready with their site,” said Jennifer Pohlhaus, the supervisor of digital media services outreach and training in Technology Services.

Apple’s service promises students the opportunity to download educational aids including PDF files, podcasts of lectures and campus news updates straight onto their iPods.

iTunes U will function similarly to iTunes. It is accessible with the same iTunes interface and features the convenience of news and lectures automatically downloaded to iPods when updated.

Even students who do not own an iPod or other Apple products will be able to use the new service.

All students can subscribe to and download all podcasts, which will be provided in standard mp3 format, compatible with any portable listening device.

“Historically, this type of technology has served to enhance the learning experience,” Pohlhaus said. “Students have one-on-one time with faculty in class, and then these additional learning tools as well.”

With iTunes U, the University is building upon technology and trends with which students are already familiar.

The addition of iTunes U to Villanova’s technological arsenal follows several other efforts, such as the laptop program and WebCT.

“Just like WebCT, [using iTunes] should become like second nature,” Pohlhaus said. “It is very easy to subscribe and upload or download files. This technology will definitely stay.”

iTunes U officially became available students last week.

The University must work to use the program’s full capabilities, like providing the faculty with portable recorders to create podcasts of lectures and working with existing technology in buildings, such as the Pavilion and Connelly Center, for larger events.

Security and preservation of intellectual property are also a concern.

Currently, only students registered in particular classes may download podcasts from that class.

“We need to also work on development of authenticated access to iTunes U to ensure that professors are guaranteed of the safety of their intellectual property,” Pohlhaus said. “We mainly have departments using [iTunes U] right now, not individual faculty members,” she continued. “But there is a lot of interest, especially once security is ensured.”

Any interested professor can begin uploading podcasts of lectures at any time.

The University hopes to provide formal training on how to properly set up iTunes U for interested faculty on an ad-hoc basis.

If enough people show interest, workshop training may also be provided.

The faculty will rely on students to recognize how the use of iTunes U should be developed. Just as students often utilize the posting of grades and assignments on WebCT, the same should occur for iTunes U.

“We’re hoping that students drive this technology,” Pohlhaus said. “Here, education meets what [students] are already doing. The more mobile we can make [them], the better.”

For more information on the iTunes U program, go to www.villanova.edu/itunes.