Macƒ?TMs own version of iTunes?

By Jack Eisenberg

For students who canƒ?TMt remember what that last lecture in class was all about or what the last guest speaker said, Appleƒ?TMs new program, iTunes U, may have solved their problem.Apple Corporation has offered Macalester the chance to pilot its new file-sharing program, iTunes U, a program designed for file-sharing between faculty and students. The invitation makes Macalester the first liberal arts college in the country to which the company has extended the offer.

While specifics are still in the offing, the program, according to the iTunes U web site, consists of a professor-student file-sharing database controlled by Apple. Professors and students can upload content onto the Apple-hosted database through which users can browse and search. Apple intends to make both audio and video files available on iTunes U.

If Macalester accepts Appleƒ?TMs offer, it would join the ranks of six high-profile universities, including Stanford, Brown, Duke and the University of Michigan, which have all linked onto the file sharing program.

Christopher Heck, an Apple Campus Representative based at the University of St. Thomas, said that schools were given this opportunity by ƒ?oeinvitation only.ƒ??

iTunes U would enable students to download recorded class lectures and guest speakersƒ?TM talks onto their computers, making it possible for students to view or hear them when they want, where they want. ƒ?oeI think there is a great deal of potential benefit to Macalester, we just need to figure out how and where iTunes U fits,ƒ?? Ted Fines, Assistant Director for Network Services, wrote in an email to Information Technology Services (ITS) employees obtained by The Mac Weekly.

Fines added that he envisioned being able to post WMCN interviews and musical concerts onto the server in addition to lectures.

Despite having met with an Apple representative on March 7, ITS has not given any details on if or when iTunes U will arrives on campus.

Several students have said that they would be interested in iTunes U.

ƒ?oeI could see myself using it,ƒ?? Talon Powers ƒ?TM09 said.

ƒ?oeIt would be great to see recordings of guest speakers that I might miss if I was in class,ƒ?? Carleton Hanson ƒ?TM09 said.

Professors would also be active members of the database, posting class notes, papers, messages, or video-recorded lectures for student use.

ƒ?oePart of whatƒ?TMs exciting about this idea is that it is a new and creative medium for sharing information,ƒ?? said Christopher Wells, a History and Environmental Studies professor. ƒ?oeBut, like other earlier attempts to use new media to make lectures more accessible, it shares in common the fact that it is severing students from the classroom.ƒ??

Some on campus have suggested that an experience at a liberal arts college is distinct from one at a major university, and may not necessitate iTunes U.

ƒ?oeFor a place like Macalester, it is about community, not content,ƒ?? Wells said.

Many were also indifferent, and even skeptical, toward the program.

ƒ?oeIt seems like a great idea, but I donƒ?TMt really see myself using it,ƒ?? Joe Novak ƒ?TM09 said.

Others worry that the ability to view video recordings of lectures would likely give students, ƒ?oean excuse not to go to class,ƒ?? limiting the positive aspects of classroom engagement that Macalester prides itself on, Ryan Henderson ƒ?TM09 said.