I just discovered that Apple has launched a new section of the iTunes Store, called iTunes U – the U must be short for University.
Promising and FREE
My first impression is that iTunes U looks very, very promising.
iTunes U features video and audio lectures, lecture notes etc. from major US universities, like MIT; for instance an entire course on “Electromagnetism” from MIT with titles like “What holds our world together?…”, all organised in the familiar iTunes Store.
And the best is that the content is FREE – yes FREE.
Where are the Danish Us?
So when will we get content from Danish Universities on iTunes U? I’m not optimistic!
The reason I’m pessimistic, is the ongoing debate over “e-Learning” in Denmark. As usually, when it comes to anything remotely related to ICT, the debate is mostly about technology and ICT-skills.
STOP TALKING! Get producing!
I say: STOP TALKING: Get the infrastructure in place, and you can immediately begin producing and distributing lecture notes, audio and video content. It requires almost no ICT-skills to use an application like iTunes – all students has the skills to do so today.
Later on, more advanced e-Learning applications could be made, even though I doubt that they’ll ever work – I’m a firm believer in the fact that you’ll never be able to replace the teacher, and with the infrastructure in place, we can all become teachers as well as students.
Benefits of partnering with a commercial infrastructure provider
A major benefit of partnering with a commercial infrastructure provider like iTunes Store, is that it removes the hassles of making the technology work from the institutions, leaving them to worry about what they do best, producing content.
I’m sure that the content offered on iTunes U is available elsewhere, and that there are downsides to trust Apple with distributing the content, most likely in their proprietary formats, but the convenience of having it all show up in iTunes, which makes it so easy to access the content, and have it synced to the iPod, means that I can live with it – for now.
Despite concerns iTunes U is a wake-up call
I realise that Apple also is doing this to draw traffic to the iTunes Store, and to sell more iPods, Macs and Apple TVs, iTunes U is actually one of the biggest selling points for Apple TV I’ve seen so far.
Despite my concerns over iTunes U, it remains a great initiative – they’re getting so many things right – and it’s my hope that it will serve as an inspiration to the Danish Educational System: WAKE UP!