Sunday, December 7, 2008

2008: The iTunes University Race!!

Check it out. The year is 2001. Apple launches a little application known as iTunes. Cool. Competition for Windows Media Player. iTunes offers a simple way to catalog all of your media into an easily browse-able library. More than that, iTunes doubles as a media player itself offering versatility and playback for a plethora of media formats.

Fast-forward 2 years later: 2003 sees version 4 of iTunes which adds the iTunes store. iTunes now provides an opportunity for users to purchase music and other media directly off the internet using an account through iTunes. At this point, iTunes becomes a perpetual money-making machine, allowing users to purchase whatever media they like directly from home. No CDs. No DVDs. No hassle. Plus, it’s all legit. Awesome.

Fast-forward two more years: 2005 sees version 6 of iTunes which adds podcasting. For those unfamiliar with podcasting see my last post (11/17/08). Cool? Cool.

Okay – great – so iTunes can categorize, player-ize, purchase-ize, and pod-ize your media. Can it do anything else?

You bet.

Enter 2008. The year iTunes U becomes popular. iTunes U is the expansion of iTunes to encompass the growing world of universities, colleges and higher-education institutions. iTunes U provides an opportunity for universities to share everything that’s great about them with the world. Lectures, special events, homecoming or athletic highlights – it’s whatever you can think of. If it can be filmed, recorded, produced or imagined. Anything goes. iTunes is the ultimate experience for universities to open the door to let the world outside know exactly what it’s like to be a Tiger, Bear, Saluki, Sooner, Husky, Gator- whatever.

Let’s take a quick look at the University of Washington’s podcast site:

(University of Washington iTunes U homepage - all rights reserved.)

As you can see, the University of Washington has broken their media into various categories including Husky Life, What’s Hot, It Happened at the UW and Endless Campus. Each of these categories hosts various videos about the university.

So, video on the internet- that’s nothing new, right? Well, yeah, video has been on the internet since the 1990’s. But, here’s the thing – never has it been so well organized and efficient. When you get on iTunes you can synch directly up with the University of Washington home page to find all of their media. Or if you prefer to switch it up – go check out the University of Oklahoma site.

Think about it this way – let’s assume you’re a senior in high school. For kicks, let’s say you’re attending Firestone High School in Akron, Ohio. Cool, right? Alright, let’s say you’re interested in attending the University of Denver, University of Southern California or Fort Hays State University. Okay, so plug university in each into iTunes U and you’re instantly greeted by a variety of videos highlighting student life. Awesome! But you can usually find a lot of this on the actual website. Okay. Let’s say you’re really interested in sociology. Furthermore, let’s assume each site has hosted a few videos of recent lectures by sociology professors. You can literally watch the classroom sessions and see which school best suites your interests. Classroom lectures of your major from your top choices. That’s iTunes U.

So who’s on board? A quick Google search shows that UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Penn State, Texas A&M and the University of Washington, for starters. Who’s going to lead the race? Whomever updates with the most interesting and relevant information. Who’s watching? Oh, only about 50 million current iTunes users =) (

So let’s follow the universities trekking into new territory. Support ‘em. Show ‘em some love. Go Eagles, go Wildcats, go Cyclones, or Go Huskies- whatever- Just go iTunes U!

(Harry the Husky/Spirit is property of the University of Washington - all rights reserved)


Jameser said...

So, don't get me wrong, your post was all kinds of good. But here is my problem with iTunes U.

1) It is going to corner the market even more for Apple. Monopoly anyone? How is it fair that students now have to be part of the iTunes craze in order to participate in college. Aren't there enough hoops to jump through already?

2) Technology is great. But too much technology is bad. That's Media 101. It's called information overload. You also have the digital divide to worry about. Bottom line is that I feel like universities are into such a technology craze, that they are forgetting that there are a lot of students, parents, and other citizens out there who are going to be left out in the cold.

Other than that, I think it's a great idea. Other than that.

krseRN said...

I love the idea of Itunes U as well! Do you think you would have used this technology if it would've been available as an undergrad? Even more, do you think you would be more likely to skip class and just catch it later on Itunes?

JRi said...

@ krseRN - Yeah, quite possibly!