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Author Topic: The Threat of iTunes U  (Read 5552 times)
mererhetoric
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« on: April 10, 2012, 3:45:26 PM »

The Treat of iTunes U

The popularity of iPod/iPad apps is astonishing. Each day more and more great apps are available to download to help make students' lives easier. One such app is iTunes U --an app where faculty from different universities and colleges across the globe post podcast, PDFs, and video lectures for anyone to download for free. On the surface, this sounds amazing! iTunes U allows anyone with an Apple product to watch or listen to lectures on virtually any subject from Harvard, MIT, or your local university. However, few see the problems with this model of teaching. Although it is great that college material is now accessible to everyone, I worry for my job.

Just recently, my boss at the writing center, gave me the task of developing material to post of our universities soon-to-be iTunes U account. At first, I was thrilled. I thought it would be a neat opportunity to dabble in the new technology (and it would look great on my CV too). However, as I got thinking about intellectual property and my rights to my materials and teaching practices, my worry rose. As an English adjunct lecturer who works at three different universities and community colleges, I am slightly worried that if I put all of my "goods" --my teaching tips and strategies, my lessons, my handouts-- on iTunes (which can have it there indefinitely) I will become obsolete. Why do we need another lecturer when the students can learn from iTunes?

Is this a legitimate fear? Should I fear iTunes U? How do I appease my boss without giving up all of my material that I have worked on for years now?

I need advice. Suggestions welcomed!   
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larryc
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2012, 3:52:46 PM »

Don't think of it as a threat, think of it as an advertising platform for the greatness that is you.
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spork
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2012, 5:16:01 PM »

I recommend starting a company that markets a portfolio of this stuff. Or a company that tells universities how to use this stuff as a branding tool.

In other words, it's time to get out of academia. Part-time writing center employment is not a financially feasible career path.
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2012, 5:24:21 PM »

Why do we need another lecturer when the students can learn from iTunes?

Because the students *don't* learn, whether it's from iTunes U or anywhere else.

Well, OK, maybe that is a little overly cynical. Some students do learn. I personally have learned a lot from listening to podcasts of courses from other schools, usually in subjects that are out of my area. But listening to those podcasts has made me *more* likely to take a real class, not less likely. It whetted my appetite, but couldn't satisfy it. So for the students who are likely to learn from your podcast, it may act as an impetus to get them into your real classroom. The students who don't learn from your podcast, by default, should not be of concern to you. They have taken nothing, in spite of having the wisdom of ages spread before them.

And there will always be more students who are not satisfied with not-learning via podcast and want to not-learn in real life, so I don't think that actual brick-and-mortar teaching jobs are going anywhere.

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cc_alan
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2012, 5:48:09 PM »

There's also YouTube. OpenCourseWare like that at MIT.

Don't be afraid of it. This is a chance to make educational materials that will be available to everyone in the world.

+1 to what everyone else wrote, also.

Alan
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mererhetoric
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2012, 3:03:52 PM »

Thanks for the advice everyone! I appreciate it!
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zharkov
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 3:10:20 PM »


Just recently, my boss at the writing center, gave me the task of developing material to post of our universities soon-to-be iTunes U account.
   

If you develop content, then you should be getting paid, unless you signed an employment agreement that gave the school the right to any content you developed. 
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hegemony
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2012, 3:24:19 PM »

Before there was iTunes U, there was a content delivery system called "books."  These also contained all the knowledge necessary to learn things.  However, without a structured approach, assignments, and grades, most students didn't learn consistently from books any more than they'll learn from iTunes.
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larryc
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2012, 3:38:26 PM »

Isn't there a line in Good Will Hunting where the townie taunts the Harvard students for having shelled out a hundred thousand dollars of their parents money for an education that they could have accessed with a library card?
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zharkov
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2012, 7:58:04 PM »

Isn't there a line in Good Will Hunting where the townie taunts the Harvard students barnies for having shelled out a hundred thousand dollars of their parents money for an education that they could have accessed with a library card?


Fixed that for ya, larryc.

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polly_mer
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2012, 8:19:55 PM »

Before there was iTunes U, there was a content delivery system called "books."  These also contained all the knowledge necessary to learn things.  However, without a structured approach, assignments, and grades, most students didn't learn consistently from books any more than they'll learn from iTunes.

This.  Sometimes, you need to ask the question of an expert who will respond.  I know I've become frustrated with canned lectures where I want to say, "But how did you get from X to Y?  That's not clear."  Many things cannot be learned by watching/listening to a lecture.  As Conjugate has said, if watching were enough to become competent, then we could all be Olympic swimmers.
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lerasmus
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2012, 11:01:08 PM »

I don't regard iTunes U and OpenCourseware to be a threat - yet. I was looking around for courses on intellectual property law, new media studies, and other related topics (things of the "digital" age) and although there were a few courses that seemed to have potential relevance, almost all were taught by grad students who had obviously never had any teacher training (and were more riddled with factual problems than most undergrad papers I've graded). There's a few good history and philosophy sequences taught by well-known and charismatic teachers, but not nearly enough to replace an education.
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