Professors might scoff at the herds of students wandering campus with those signature white iPod earbuds, but starting this semester at the University of British Columbia, those students may have been learning. This fall, UBC joined Apple's iTunes U program , wherein school content is made available for free download through their own section of the iTunes Store . Files can be restricted to enrolled students-only, but the majority is available free to all.
"If you are a student, you probably don't know how to find UBC web content because it's spread across university websites... We know students use iTunes, so this collects what UBC has and takes it to their environment," says Alfred Hermida, who helped to pioneer the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) news website as a journalist before joining UBC in 2006.
Other Canadian institutions doing the same include the University of Western Ontario, the Banff Centre, Queen's University, and Université de Montréal. UWO also started this semester and doesn't have any lecture content up, but has used it for other content like convocation addresses, school news, and recordings of student council meetings. Pacific Northwest schools on iTunes U include the University of Portland, Pacific University, and Seattle Pacific University. In total, over 75,000 audio and video files are hosted on iTunes U from 150+ institutions in the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and the UK.
It's great to see schools embracing new technologies, and that they can be presented in a way that's accessible to both instructor and student. Students get learning materials through the media player that they probably already have installed. Instructors are given an easy platform on which to host their content; UBC's page provides basic audio recording and editing instructions using free software. And everyone gets the benefit of all the free educational content available through iTunes U.