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Tuning into TC on iTunes U

The Apple service that makes university content available online is a storehouse of information
It’s 7:30 p.m. and class is almost over, yet students in Katia Gonzalez’s class are deep in conversation about equity and education. So Gonzalez, who earned her doctorate from TC in 2006, tells her students at Wagner College in Staten Island to check the class Web site the next day, where they’ll find a link to a video of author and activist Jonathan Kozol speaking at Teachers College.

Gonzalez is just one of a growing number of professors throughout the country who have begun to tap into video and other content on iTunes U, the Apple service that makes university material available free online, as a regular part of their teaching.
Apple launched iTunes U in 2007 and now holds more than 75,000 educational audio and video files from universities, museums and media organizations from around the world. TC launched its iTunes U “storefront” in May of 2008 and has been drawing a steady stream of users ever since—thanks in part to people like Gonzalez, who routinely direct their soon-to-be teachers to the site.
In some ways, iTunes U is giving extended life to rich content that otherwise might have been lost in the archives of the TC Web site. Tied to Apple’s popular iPod, iTunes U at TC now garners thousands of downloads a month.
Gonzalez, who uses the videos and podcasts from TC’s iTunes U storefront, also taps other material available on iTunes U, such as TC Trustee John Merrow’s Learning Matters programs.
For her courses, the content on iTunes U is just a starting point. “The class is actively engaged in a discussion related to different challenges and needs in schools,” Gonzalez says. “The Kozol lecture really resonates with the students. After watching it and reflecting on it, they started digging into Kozol’s books and have been talking about getting him to come to Wagner to speak.”
Paul Acquaro, Director of the TC Web, the office that maintains the public portion of the iTunes U store, says he envisioned the TC site serving as a resource for educators and hopes more faculty will come to use the material in the future. Acquaro notes that not all of the information on iTunes U need be public. There is a private side of the site, Acquaro said, for use by classes at the College that is maintained by the Department of Academic Computing.
“I like that we’re able to share a discussion that Malcolm Gladwell had with a cohort from the Klingenstein Center, with people who may be searching the iTunes store and not even know where or what Teachers College is,” Acquaro said. “They download it and are provided with links to the College and can also see all of the other great content on the site.”
TC’s iTunes U site can be accessed at http://itunes.tc.columbia.edu.

Published Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2009