The Binghamton University Student Association is making the move to connect popular technology and schoolwork by putting class lectures up on iTunes U.
The information on iTunes U, found through the iTunes store, is completely free and as of now only available to BU students, according to Daniel Rabinowitz, SA vice president for academic affairs.
Students will need to go to itunesu.binghamton.edu and enter their PODS username and password. To access the Web site, students need to have the iTunes application installed on their computers.
“The ultimate goal of this essentially would be to have 100- and 200-level classes on there, so mostly freshman and sophomore year classes,” Rabinowitz said. “The site is mainly aimed towards lecture classes.”
If a student is confused about the concept of limits in calculus or needs to look up and understand a fact related to their political science class, they could look at one of these lectures from another school to clarify, Rabinowitz explained.
As of now the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, Decker School of Nursing and Watson School of Engineering are the colleges from BU with material listed.
Harpur’s listings include musical performances and some information from the evolutionary studies program.
Chris Reiber, an assistant professor of anthropology, has an interview on the page that she conducted before a seminar, but she only recently found out that it was uploaded to iTunes.
Reiber believes the site is smart, depending on how it is used.
“If we start putting all lectures onto iTunes we run the risk of minimizing our contact with students, which would tamper the educational process,” Reiber said.
iTunes U can also be used to learn and reinforce material through lectures taught at different universities across the country.
According to Apple, there are over 600 universities with active iTunes U sites. About half of these institutions, including Stanford University, Yale University, MIT and Oxford University, share their content publicly so anyone with an iTunes account can access it.
According to both Reiber and Rabinowitz, the information on iTunes U should be used as a supplementary tool, and as a replacement for attending a class.
“Things that are difficult concepts for students to grasp and may be things they need to hear multiple times before they can really understand them are good things to put up,” Reiber said. “If it’s used as a way to enforce learning rather than replace it, I think it’s a good idea.”
Rabinowitz advises students to check out the BU page of iTunes U, and spread the word. He believes that if more students use it, professors will be more inclined to upload their lectures.
According to Reiber, the success of the application will depend on the University’s organizational structure. If the idea is spread systematically, there is a chance it will become fairly productive.