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The Dartmouth
May 28, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Academic iTunes may make debut at College

A Dartmouth committee is currently investigating the possibility of using iTunes U, an Apple program that enables college students to download videos of campus lectures and events. Some 28 universities and colleges, including Duke University and Yale University, currently use iTunes U.

Malcolm Brown, director of academic computing and adjunct professor of Jewish studies, said that the committee has been discussing the prospect of joining iTunes U with various groups, including members of the Office of Alumni Affairs and the Office of Public Affairs.

"There are certain things that are attractive about sharing courses and public lectures with the larger Internet community," Brown said. "What goes on here is useful."

Although all of the material on iTunes U is free to users, becoming a part of the program would require a large time and cost commitment from the College, because lectures must be videotaped and edited before they can appear on the Internet. The College must also ensure that copyrighted material does not appear on its recordings.

The program's recently released "Beyond Campus" feature would also allow students to access material from sources such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Supreme Court.

Brown said that the program will make Dartmouth academic events more accessible to the general public. With Blackboard already in place, it would be "redundant" to use iTunes U to provide course content to students, he said.

Professors in the French department at Duke University have been using the program to house private audio and video files for Duke students. According to Clare Tufts, the director of the university's French program, professors have discovered that Blackboard is easier to use and access for students. As a result, many professors within the department now store resources on both programs.

"As long as they get their work done, we don't really care where they get the material from," Tufts said.

Many Dartmouth professors currently podcast their lectures to make them available to students outside of class. Attachments for iPods record the presentation, which the professor then downloads to iTunes and posts on Blackboard. Lee Witters, professor of biology, podcasts lectures from all three of his undergraduate courses.

"I think that for students who have certain learning challenges, this offers them a great chance to slow things down, listen to things again," he said. "You can stop and start me."

English professor Thomas Luxon has used podcasts for his classes since the spring of 2005. Luxon said that the process is useful because it enables those students who must miss class to review the lectures, and other students to engage in class discussions rather than focus on taking notes. Recordings are a more effective way of learning, Luxon said, since students can adjust the speed of podcasts and listen to an entire lecture in half the time.

"We have to ask ourselves if maybe class time could be used better if there's more efficient ways to deliver information," he said.

A major concern with podcasts, however, is whether or not they will discourage students from attending class. Several professors who have begun using the technology said they have not noticed major changes in their class size.

"I make it really clear that there's no substitute for being in class," Luxon said. "[The podcasts are] kind of a bore because there's a lot of activity going on in class that doesn't involve me talking. You really, really would not want to just listen to the podcast."