Students push for content on iTunes U

| Staff Reporter

Soon, Washington University students and the greater public may be able to enjoy University media content online through iTunes U. 

A free educational resource supported by Apple’s iTunes, iTunes U gives member universities their own site to manage and distribute audio content, video content and PDF files to their students, as well as to anyone with Internet access.

Student groups, the admissions office and professors would be able to upload media files and also be able to control who has access to them.

Although Washington University does not currently subscribe to iTunes U, Student Union and a group of freshmen who worked on the project during the Leading Wash. U. Style pre-orientation program are making it a priority to change that.

“I think iTunes U could be an invaluable medium because students would benefit by having a consolidated resource and the outside community could receive an enticing glimpse of the Wash. U. community,” said Josh Aiken, a freshman who participated in the project during the pre-orientation.

Supporters believe that if the University were to create an iTunes page, it would allow student groups to publicize events online and thus reach the student population more effectively. Furthermore, it would create a shared network of knowledge and experiences for professors, students, alumni, prospective students, staff and the outside community.

“An iTunes U page will help improve the University’s public image and reputation,” said freshman Michelle Zhang, another student who collaborated on the project during pre-orientation. “With better public reputation, we can attract even more speakers that will lead to more uploads, increased viewership on iTunes and ultimately, an even higher recognition for the school.”

More than 600 universities around the world already use iTunes U, including Harvard University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.

Since there is a minimum of 150 media files needed to create an iTunes U page, SU is in the process of raising student interest and contacting student groups and administrators about the project to collect the initial content.

Other issues to be resolved include concerns about copyright laws, determining guidelines for future content and raising funds to maintain the page and attract guest speakers.

Potential videocasts may include the Assembly Series lectures, Martin Luther King commemoration, graduation speakers, virtual tours of campus, student performances and undergraduate research.

“I really hope Wash. U. implements iTunes U, because then students will be able to access lectures and performances they might have missed due to classes or schedule conflicts,” sophomore Carolyn Carpenter said. “My parents back home would also love to watch the video casts.”

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