iTunes U Anyone?

Now to re-investigate iTunes U. (

I’m really curious to see the interface, but I think you need to get into an agreement to try it out. If it’s as easy to use as they say, maybe it’s worth running a pilot. I need to find some faculty interested in exploring this with me, though. There’s no point in running a pilot with just myself.

I took a peek at what Stanford has on iTunes U (the stuff they make public – I believe they have a whole separate iTunes U entity that is password-protected) and it was pretty interesting. A little hard to navigate at first (I didn’t really know what I was looking for), but really easy to access. I think I was streaming the files, since I didn’t download any of them. I didn’t actually *subscribe* to anything, although I could have.

To get into a school’s iTunes U, you need to click on a web link. You can’t simply search the Music Store for the school. The school’s iTunes U replaces the music store (so you’re accessing it through the iTunes Music Store link in iTunes), but you can easily return to the real Music Store by clicking the little house icon in the breadcrumb at the top.

I suppose it helps that they have quite a lot of content on there – music, concerts, videos, mini documentaries, etc.

Question: What format are all of these in? I know they can be downloaded to an iPod, but what about other portable players? This seems to be the big controversy… the formatting prevents other players, from what I hear. I have heard the audio is encoded into AAC, and the video is MP4 – but I’ll have to double check that. (Note: Supposedly you aren’t stuck to those formats – anything iTunes can play, you can publish) This is what makes people the most wary – that it is apparently a venue for Apple to sell more iPods to students. Not a bad tradeoff, I think (considering what little information I have).

I’m really interested in looking into this more. I would like to try a couple of Podcast pilots – one on iTunes U, one with Roller. In the end, which will instructors find easiest to use? Which will students find easiest to use? Will either group find podcasting useful at all?

Schools on iTunes:

A Few Opinions: