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APSU an iTunes University; students, public can hear lectures, learn about campus

Austin Peay State University students who normally use the popular software iTunes to purchase and download music now have another reason to use the computer program.

Austin Peay has joined an increasing number of colleges and universities worldwide in becoming an iTunes University, a free service that provides easy access to educational content. Through the software owned and operated by computer manufacturer Apple, students can download content to their Mac or PC computers and transfer it to their iPods, if they choose.
Austin Peay State University students who normally use the popular software iTunes to purchase and download music now have another reason to use the computer program.

Austin Peay has joined an increasing number of colleges and universities worldwide in becoming an iTunes University, a free service that provides easy access to educational content. Through the software owned and operated by computer manufacturer Apple, students can download content to their Mac or PC computers and transfer it to their iPods, if they choose.

In addition to bringing a variety of multimedia content to students, APSU's site on iTunes University, or iTunes U, will include information and Web links to anyone wanting to learn more about APSU.

“Our visibility in the educational world will increase by the availability of public content from Austin Peay when students or iTunes community members do a search on iTunes,” said Kathrine Bailey, multimedia specialist in APSU's Center for Extended and Distance Education. “We own and manage our content. Apple merely hosts the site.”

Bailey also said that iTunes U could be used to create an Internet community for Austin Peay, in which a number of audiences would be able to gain information about APSU news and events. In addition, music to the University's alma mater and fight song can be heard on APSU's iTunes University site.

Faculty also can upload their classroom lectures onto the iTunes site as podcasts, either audio or video. Bailey said faculty interested in learning how to podcast their lectures will be trained in the near future, and classroom discussions and other materials will be ready for download as early as this summer.

There are several faculty members who are developing multimedia content for inclusion on iTunes, Bailey said.

“The technology for creating the podcasts is easy to learn, and soon enough anyone that wants to use the technology should be able to do so,” she said.

Professor of History Dr. Gregory Zieren, having taught online courses since 2002, was among the first APSU faculty members to embrace the podcast technology. He used video podcasting for his Research Methods course in Fall 2006.

“This worked out better than I had expected,” he said. “Plus, these podcasts can be preserved so we can use them on future occasions when we teach class.”
In addition to online faculty, those who teach on-campus classes also will be able to use iTunes U to help enhance student learning.

Bailey cautioned, however, that iTunes University is not a substitute for class attendance for students online nor in face-to-face classes.

“As with any new media, the standards and best practices are being written even as we speak,” she said. “The most important thing to remember about using any multimedia aspect in a classroom or online class environment is that it is not a substitute, but rather, an enhancement to the class lectures and readings. It should be used to reinforce the reading or lecture material.”

As an example of how a podcast could be useful, a faculty member could podcast about the flow of blood through the heart to reinforce the material on a particular part of the circulatory system. Instead of posting an entire lecture, an instructor would use smaller lectures of three to 10 minutes to highlight certain points or difficult concepts.

The Web address for APSU on iTunes U is http://itunes.apsu.edu. A computer with Internet connection is necessary; high-speed Internet is recommended. The iTunes program also is required, and it is a free download available at www.apple.com.

For more information, contact Bailey by telephone at (931) 221-1013 or by e-mail at baileyk@apsu.edu. -- Melony Leazer