Wesleyan has become the latest institution to join iTunes U, a component of Apple’s iTunes Store that provides free educational audio and video content from the world’s foremost higher education institutions, museums and public media organizations.
Wesleyan joins more than 160 higher education institutions who have met Apple’s strict quality control requirements and have been allowed to post educational content on Apple’s iTunes U site.
The initiative was the result of a joint effort between University Communications and the New Media Lab. The departments worked within the guidelines provided by Apple to create a web-based presence that showcases unique workshops, lectures, WESeminars, interviews, athletic competitions and other memorable events.
“We all like to find interesting, meaningful and relevant content online – make a discovery, learn something and share it with friends,” says Mark Bailey, director of strategic communications. “Wesleyan’s iTunes U channel is the place to do these things.”
Users can connect to iTunes U either directly from the menu on the left hand side of the main page at Apple’s iTunes Store, or by going to Wesleyan’s own site http://www.wesleyan.edu/podcast/ and clicking on the hyperlinked phrase “Click here to visit our site on iTunes U (link activates iTunes).”
To find Wesleyan’s content on the iTunes U site, users can scroll through the alphabetical list of institutions and click on “Wesleyan University;” users can also type “Wesleyan University” into the iTunes U search bar. The content can be accessed from any device that can support iTunes, including PCs, Macs and iPhones.
Once users arrive at Wesleyan iTunes U site they will find the complete lectures from Professor Richard Slotkin’s last course at Wesleyan; selections from the university’s public lecture series, WESeminars, presentations from Homecoming/Family Weekend and Commencement, athletic events and much more. And new content is being added all the time. Users can download individual tracks or subscribe to a series.
“iTunes U is a great place for Wesleyan to be,” says Jen Carlstrom, lead designer for the New Media Lab. “It’s exciting to be a part of this large consortium of universities who share knowledge that others can learn from.”
Prospective students, enrolled students, parents, staff, professors, alumni and friends are encouraged to subscribe to the various series on the Wesleyan iTunes U page. Bailey says that, although there are plans to send out periodic emails and alerts to members of the Wesleyan community to let people know what’s new on iTunes U, subscribing to a particular Wesleyan-created series is the best way to make sure new content is not missed.
“We are constantly trying to reach the diverse audience through channels that they are most familiar and comfortable with,” says Ganesan “Ravi” Ravishanker, associate vice president for Information Technology Services. “Our recent presence in YouTube and iTunes U are attempts to target the audience from two of the enormously popular systems on the Internet. Initial indications are that we are succeeding in drawing interest.”
Keith Schumann ’09, who is majoring in history and College of Letters, is one of the people capturing events around campus for the New Media Lab. He says he “loves” that Wesleyan is involved in iTunes U.
“I don’t know if many students know about it,” Schumann says. “I hope that more do. Not only because I think that it would be wonderful if students would really make use of this resource while here, but because I feel that it gives a sense for the direction that media may well be going in the future. I strain to imagine who could not benefit from that.”
Schumann recently attended a presentation on campus by video-game designer Jeremy Bernstein ’97 and then interviewed him on film. The interview with Bernstein should be up on iTunes U soon. He also said that hopes students become more involved in Wesleyan’s iTunes U site.
“iTunes U is a great way for Wesleyan faculty and students alike to communicate their academic experiences and ideas using the podcasting medium,” says Melissa Datre, director of the New Media Lab. “It is our plan that in addition to producing podcasts of university events and lectures, we will also develop series-based programming from the Wesleyan community. The New Media Lab is looking forward to assisting the Wesleyan community with their podcast productions.”
Bailey also is enthused about the possibilities the initiative offers, and the opportunities for more people to see and hear some of the outstanding things happening at Wesleyan.
“I am excited and inspired by Wesleyan’s joining other important institutions in the iTunes U,” Bailey says. “There is important work, research, study, learning, art and sharing going on here that will make visitors from Stanford, MIT, UCLA, CalTech, the University of Chicago, Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin and other schools sit up and pay attention.”
Members of the Wesleyan community can share potential ideas for new iTunes U submissions by sending their suggestions to email@example.com.
Those who do not have iTunes and want to access Wesleyan’s iTunes U site can download the application at http://www.apple.com/itunes.