Teachers, students team with iTunes U to make interactive classroom

By By Rita Totten, Staff Writer

By Rita Totten, Staff Writer

Students and teachers began experimenting with iTunes U last year, a part of iTunes used by universities and colleges for Web-based classes, downloadable files and more.

More than 65 classes on campus use iTunes U and about 2,500 podcasts are available, all with course material including lectures and presentations.

Suzanne Stensaas, a neurobiology and anatomy professor, posts the audio file from her lectures onto iTunes U every week.

When the iTunes U application was first introduced, both the PowerPoint and audio files were uploaded to iTunes together.

Stensaas said the downside was how long it took to upload the program. The resources the department was spending on compressing the files were too costly.

“It took four hours of labor per lecture to upload it to iTunes,” Stensaas said. “Essentially, iTunes took too long.”

Now students just upload audio files from the iTunes U site for class.

“It takes me about 45 seconds to upload a typical 50 minute lecture, and about the same amount of time to download it,” said David Burrow, a second year medical student in Stensaas’ class.

Richard Glaser, an information technician for student labs on campus, said the U began offering the site to professors and departments last year.

With the help of Marketing and Communications on campus, the link to iTunes U was added to the main U page, he said.

Now, students in Stensaas’ classes run a Web site where the PowerPoint slides of her lectures are available to download. E-mail alerts are announced when the file is downloaded, or students can request automatic downloads.

Stensaas said her students can view the PowerPoint presentation, listen to the audio file, or watch them together.

Stensaas said class attendance has not gone down despite the readily accessible online version.

“Students only use it if they are sick, have work, or if there was too much material to absorb at the time,” she said.

The U’s iTunes Web site offers university classes and material as well as files unrelated to class. More than 1,800 non-class files are podcasts for each college or department, which are available to the public.

For class files, a uNID is required to access the content.

The home page for iTunes U caters to universities, colleges, grades K-12 and students who are home-schooled.

The site lists business, math and science categories and provides links to content provided by universities and colleges across the country.

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