Kent State hopes to debut iTunes U

Abbey Stirgwolt

The iPod playlist of the not-so-distant future: Dave Matthews, Postal Service, Kelly Clarkson and Chemistry lecture?

Forging the way for infusion of technology into the university setting, this spring Apple introduced iTunes U, a free program for universities that will allow students to download classroom lectures from their Macs or PCs onto their iPods.

“iTunes U is a branded, personalized, customized method for educational institutions to distribute courseware to students,” said LAN administrator Tom Mahon.

Institutions desiring to obtain the iTunes U program must first apply to Apple to ensure they meet qualification standards.

“You have to make the case that the education provided at your university will positively impact the teaching and learning process,” Mahon said.

Kent State is currently in the process of applying. Other Ohio universities, such as Akron, Miami University and Bowling Green will also apply, Mahon said.

Apple launched a test version of the iTunes U program to 12 universities earlier this year and received positive reviews from schools such as Stanford, which currently exhibits a trial version of iTunes U on its Web site.

Mahon said more than 1,000 universities applied for the next 100 iTunes U programs Apple offered in early spring.

Greg Seibert, director of Security and Compliance, said the iTunes U program should easily find its place at Kent State.

“It’s an effective and necessary way to review lecture materials,” Seibert said.

The decision of whether or not to broadcast lectures will be left entirely to professors, he said, so that those who don’t wish to participate won’t be under obligation.

But even if professors choose to make their lectures available, Seibert said he doesn’t predict a trend of students missing class in order to view lectures later.

There’s also little chance of iTunes U replacing programs such as WebCT and Vista, which will continue to serve their purposes as part of the FlashLine network.

One of the advantages of iTunes U, Seibert said, is that it will be a “formalized infrastructure” – a way for students to access course material without going through the trouble of navigating through a series of different professors’ Web sites.

Overall, he predicted iTunes U will have no trouble adjusting at Kent State.

“I think anything with an iPod is going to be a big hit,” he said.

Contact technology reporter Abbey Stirgwolt at

[email protected]