What’s involved in making university resources available on iTunes U: some experiences

There’s been an interesting discussion today on the ALT members mailing list about the process and benefits of universities ‘launching’ their resources on iTunes U. And also a slightly arid discussion about whether open resources should be made available to be aggregated on a closed platform (how open is it to take an exclusive approach to distribution?). Andy Beggan from Nottingham University shared this blog post about an iTunes U conference and the experiences shared there by a range of universities.

iPad notes and iTunes U talks

Duke, the founding fathers of iTunes U, followed and discussed their history with iTunes U, starting as a closed internal site only but has seen them shift more and more over time towards open publication. Recent initiatives include trawling through their video archive for adverts from the 50s & 60s, both entertaining and historically interesting; they are encouraging other Universities to publish their own archival content. The OU followed and presented amazing stats of 26.5 million downloads (av 310,000 per week), a true success story. HEC business school in Paris discussed the creation process and a novel way of using students as ‘guest directors’ during live recordings using a tool called Multicam. Whereas LMU Munich encouraged providers to consider what is unique about them and provide collections that take full advantage. Certainly being one of the few German language sites in iTunes U has helped result in 7.7 million downloads since Jan 2009. UCL discussed the iTunes U launch process and the benefits of an internal iTunes U site:
. Great additional learning channel for students
. Integrates with vle
. Trialling content
. Alleviate fears of being in public
. Not suitable for public (medical for example)
. Quicker to publish, less demanding for collection design

The internal site has proven popular with students, citing one medical course example which has had on average 6-7 downloads per student with limited publicity. A final (well until me) case study from RWTH Aachen highlighted the power of a hit collection, who have seen 800,000 downloads from their site, half of which is for the iPhones App development course! Ultimately what I took away from this event is the importance of collection management, being flexible and promoting success, playing to your strengths and the benefit of a good collection name–Pat Lockley there is a role here for you!

Apple then promoted the new Public Site Manager (administration tool) which Apple is keen all sites will have moved over to by April 2011. The PSM certainly provides some very neat new tools, such as being able to share urls in Facebook and Twitter, as well as direct linking to an iTunes preview page rather than in iTunes itself. Of most interest to me is the ability to provide licence information at the item level for the first time. In the past the lack of CC licencing with podcasts has created uncertainty over potential re-use. Surely as a podcast you want your material widely distributed and used, but without licencing actively permitting re-use uncertainty remains. In addition, where open licencing is applied, remixing podcasts available on iTunes U becomes a possibility, potentially creating new content or highlight packages where skills and tools permit. When I discussed this with the Apple technical team I was faced with enigmatic smiles, but (thanks to Pat) I see there is a similar tool already available for YouTube called Dragontape.

For those of you still reading, you have my thanks, my presentation is below (text slightly misaligned by slideshare during import, apologies). A copy may also be shared on Maclearning in the near future.

Read more at blogs.nottingham.ac.uk


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