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26/10/2005

Stanford puts its lectures on iTunes

Thanks to Random Culture for the story of one of those simple-but-brilliant applications of podcast technology from top US university Stanford: it's started podcasting its lectures with Apple's iTunes service. Have a  look here.

Now, the more cynical and limited of imagination among us may just see this as one more way for students to avoid lectures.

But once the giggling has died down at the back, can we seriously consider the brilliance of this: think of all the insightful, inspiring and just downright informative content that is created everyday in lecture halls up and down the land?

Let's hope that other educational institutions follow Stanford's lead soon.

I should add that as well as lectures you can access music (from The Stanford Study Break compilation) and sports podcasts. This medium will appeal to students, alumni and the general public - a great example of this new medium being used by an organisation to communicate with multiple audiences.

One of my first "find" posts was about Wiki text books, an idea with obviously great potential. It would be great to see the National Grid for Learning (NGfL) in the UK and similar organisations worldwide thinking about using Wikis and podcasting.

Other coverage and blog-posts about Stanford and iTunes:

  • Here's PR blogger and podcaster Shel Holtz's take on the story at Webpronews.com...
  • The Guardian covered the story well in its education section - it emphasises the university's long-standing relationship with Apple and the importance Stanford puts on keeping in touch with its alumni.
  • Walking Paper is written by a librarian, Aaron Schmidt - although he admits that he's had a hard time with the hype around podcasting that there's a need for librariess and education institutions to provide services for "digital natives" (he also, rightly, says that Stanford's move is great PR).
  • David Panarelli on his blog Open The Window raises some valid questions: "the real merits of this system will come from Apple's willingness to provide the same service for other colleges and universities. Will it be limited to US institutions? Will it all be free? Besides, if I can get the lectures on iTunes, then why would I shell out the $45K a year?"

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