July 12, 2009
By Jessica Pritchard
Although many may playfully tease Apple and its devout following, few can dispute the perks of iTunes, for both PC and Mac users. (Think of the commercials—Hi. I’m a PC. And I’m a Mac!). Amidst other Apple programs, iTunes gained recognition through its library of downloadable music and the subsequent popularity of the iPod. Since its origin in January 2001, iTunes has grown to include movies, TV shows, podcasts, audiobooks, music videos, and games, all of which are a simple mouse-click away.
Adding to this list of fun features is iTunes U, offering over 175,000 free downloadable educational audio and video files, similar to podcasts (see blog posts – History Podcasts 1, 2, and 3). Because so much of today’s education process integrates technology, in both high school and college, iTunes U taps into the constant accessibility and heightened interactivity of digital tools in expanding learning beyond the classroom. Such expansion contributes to a larger mobile learning movement, where students can engage with academic content at their own pace and in their own desired atmosphere, whether in their living room, at a favorite coffee shop, or on a tropical beach somewhere. The beauty of iTunes U is that you can download the audio and video files onto your computer and iPod and tote them along with you everywhere. In essence, the world becomes a classroom with endless boundaries*.
It seems natural to assume that iTunes U contains content strictly geared for teachers and students, when in fact topics cover a wide spectrum and contributions come from not only universities, colleges, and state departments of education, but also museums and libraries from around the world, such as the Library of Congress, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (a foundation supporting contemporary art). Categories available on iTunes U include business, engineering, fine arts, health and medicine, history, humanities, language, literature, math, science, social science, society, and teaching and education. Each category supplies noteworthy pages to visit, as well as its top 100 downloads.
For history enthusiasts, available resources span from lectures to documentary clips to period musical interpretations. You can also browse categories covering Asian, European, Middle Eastern, Military, Modern, and North American history. For instance, listen to Voices of Anti-Semitism sponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum or watch the World War II documentary, The War, by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
Visit Apple for more information on getting started with iTunes and iTunes U. If you’re interested in getting your university or professional organization involved with iTunes U, read the following guidelines and apply online.
* Please note: anything downloaded on iTunes will only transfer onto an iPod, which differs slightly from typical podcasts that are compatible with most, if not all, MP3 players.