Q: What is iTunes U?
A: iTunes U is a free service for colleges and universities that provides easy 24-hour access to educational content, including lecture and seminar recordings, student assignments, and other student-generated content. The iTunes U service offers an option for publishing media easily, into an online content distribution system. Lectures, sporting events, news broadcasts, recitals and concerts, or just about anything your imagination can create for delivery through this channel can be available. The service is completely cross-platform for Windows PC or Mac. iTunes U supports many file formats, including mp3, wav, aiff, Apple Lossless, aac audio, and mp4 video.
Q: Is iTunes U simply a profit-generating/advertising/marketing scheme by Apple?
A: Apple has given us a free tool to use that will work well, but that does contain an easy outlet for students and others to make purchases from that source. Purchasing an item from Apple is not required in order to use this tool though.
Q: Will the iTunes U content created at UIS be made available to anyone, including non-registered students and alumni?
A: For courses, this will be up to the instructor. For other UIS material, this will be decided by the University. Many materials that are not course-related will be made available to the public. Materials and podcast addresses can be protected or left open to all, depending on the request.
Q: Are audio files on iTunes U in an encrypted AAC (.m4a) format?
A: If the instructor requests that they be cast in this format, it is possible. If this is not requested, all audio will be in an mp3 format.
Faculty questions concerning UIS on iTunes U
Q: How easy will it be for faculty to use?
A: The amount of time and effort put into podcasting will depend on the individual faculty member. The extent of effort invested by faculty members consists simply of sitting at a computer and recording the material. Some faculty members will wish to create enhanced podcasts, which will entail more gathering and organizing of materials. Some faculty members will use podcasts to replace lecture time, which will free up time for other classroom activities. Some will simply use podcasts as a supplement to class materials. However they are used, podcasts help to give faculty and students the ability to use their time as they would like to.
Q: Are there any guidelines to follow in creating content?
A: The ITS Multimedia Education and Production team at UIS will be documenting the best practices for creating content to enable faculty to more easily package their course content for online distribution.
Q: Are recorded lectures as valuable as live lectures?
A: The advantage of the podcast is its mobility of it. Students can take lectures with them on portable devices and learn on their own time, at their own rate. This becomes more helpful in online classes where students are no longer seated at a computer during the learning process.
Q: Will students begin to skip class when their material is offered online?
A: Podcasting is going to become very helpful in online classes where the students are never in the classroom to begin with. What might also be considered is that this is a valuable way to have lecture and course material available to those students who missed the original material for legitimate reasons.
Q: What are enhanced podcasts?
A: Enhanced podcasts are audio files that have images associated with them. Content creators can synchronize images to appear at specific points in the audio playback, which allows for a richer media experience with relatively small file sizes. Podcasting allows sound files, such as music or class lectures, to be distributed over the web and then played back at the listener’s convenience, either on a home computer or a portable MP3 player, such as an iPod. That means teaching and learning can take place outside of class hours.
Student questions concerning UIS on iTunes U
Q: Can I access UIS on iTunes U if I am on a Windows PC?
A: Yes. You will need to download iTunes, which is available for Windows or Mac.
Q: Do I have to have an iPod to use iTunes U?
A: No. The course audio will be in MP3 format, and will be compatible with any MP3 player. In fact you do not have to have an MP3 player at all. Any course material can be listened to or viewed from a PC or a Mac. MP3 players simply provide the comfort of being able to leave the computer behind.
A: Can I connect my iPod to any computer and download podcasts?
No. Your iPod must be formatted for a PC or a Mac. If your iPod is formatted for a PC, you should be able to connect to other PCs and download podcasts. The same applies to Macs.
Q: I own an MP3 player. It is not an iPod. How do I get course podcasts on my MP3 player?
A: iTunes contains limited support for MP3 Players. If your player is not supported, you can still add .mp3 podcast files to your MP3 player as you would normally, without using iTunes. When you access UIS on iTunes U through iTunes on your PC or Mac to download podcasts, iTunes places those audio files in an iTunes folder on your computer. On a PC, this is normally located in My Documents> My Music> iTunes> iTunes Music> Podcasts. The audio files are in .MP3 format and can be added to your MP3 player as you would normally.
Q: Is UIS on iTunes U part of the iTunes Music Store?
A: No. UIS on iTunes U is separate from the content on the main iTunes Music Store. You will need to visit UIS on iTunes U.
Q: Can I access UIS on iTunes U directly without first opening a browser?
A: No. There are no direct links to UIS on iTunes U from the main iTunes Music Store. You will need to visit UIS on iTunes U.
Q: Do I have to pay to use iTunes or iTunes U?
A: No. iTunes is free software. You will need version 6.0 [or above] for a PC or a Mac in order to access UIS on iTunes U.
Q: Do I have to buy a subscription to my course through the iTunes Music Store?
A: No. Subscribing to your course podcasts is free.
Q: Can I access my course materials at any time?
A: Yes. Course material will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unless the instructor asks that it not be.
Q. Will I be able to do a search under podcasts in iTunes to find UIS on iTunes U?
A. The search function in iTunes currently references the main iTunes Music Store. Podcasts from UIS on iTunes U will be catalogued separately. At this time UIS podcasts will not be found in a search on iTunes.
Q: Will I be able to share a course’s podcast address with a friend?
A: Podcast addresses are easily found within the podcast information. The instructor may ask that you do not share their lectures, though.
Q: I want to link a friend directly to the audio file for the podcast. How do I do this?
A: The advantage of podcasts is the ability to subscribe. This means that every time you open iTunes, you can get the latest files for a particular podcast downloaded to your computer. If you want to share any audio from a podcast with a friend, share the podcast URL with them. Many times audio files are stored on servers in places that the creators do not want the public accessing.