Beginning this fall, George Washington University will team up with Apple computers to offer audio recordings of classroom lectures over the Internet using the iTunes music program. The new software, called "iTunes U," is designed to record lectures and broadcast them over the iTunes network where students can download them onto their computer or iPod. According to Assistant Vice President of Academic Technology P.B. Garrett, the new service will be available for 15 courses this fall and most likely more in the future. "It makes a lot of sense to deliver course content to students in a medium they are familiar with as so many students already use iTunes, and have iPods," Garrett wrote in an e-mail.
Though audio recordings of classroom lectures will be the initial focus of GW's iTunes U program, Garrett said she hopes it will eventually broadcast guest lectures and video recordings. Last fall, Apple chose a pilot group including the University of Michigan, Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin and Duke University to experiment with the iTunes U software. Duke University offered free iPods to students taking iTunes U classes, according to the Charlotte Observer newspaper. Tim Poe, senior manager of digital media solutions at Duke University, said the technology has shown how many possibilities exist in the high-tech classroom. "We now have the potential to allow students and faculty to participate in the educational experience when actual physical contact to the classroom may not be possible," Poe said. "We've seen situations already where faculty have left the area for medical reasons and still been able to teach classes," he added.