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Apple selects WMU as an iTunes University

Jan. 11, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Coming soon to an iPod near you: Western Michigan University.

Apple Computer has designated WMU as one of a handful of colleges and universities in the nation to be an iTunes University, with the company providing the University with the platform and server space to begin providing podcasts.

Podcasts are digital recordings distributed over the Internet for playback on mobile devices or personal computers. As an iTunes University, WMU will be able to provide lectures, presentations or other programs as downloadable files for students and others to access.

"Apple approached us and we seized the opportunity to be able to provide our students and faculty with the new tools for teaching and learning," says Viji Murali, WMU vice president for information technology.

WMU's podcasts will be available through Apple's iTunes, a digital media player application that is available as a free download.

It is estimated that 85 percent of college-aged individuals have a portable digital media device, such as an iPod or MP3 player. Those who don't may still download and store podcasts on their computers.

WMU Office of Information Technology staff members Bradley Morgan, David Evans and John MacKenzie have been working with faculty members Allen Webb, professor of English, and Ed Martini, professor of history, on an initial test of WMU's iTunes University site. Allen and Martini have turned lectures and supplemental material for courses they teach into podcasts which are currently available to their students.

"This initiative is only a couple months old," says Morgan. "Apple has told us that we've accomplished in two to three weeks what it usually takes other universities a couple of months to do. We are moving really fast and hope to have a more extensive site that will include podcasts for prospective students, alumni and others by fall."

The use of podcasts to supplement college teaching has met with positive results elsewhere. Duke University conducted an experiment in which it gave all incoming freshman iPods and access to a variety of course information via podcasts. After a year, Duke found that the quality of student work and level of student engagement increased.

Making a podcast is simple: most laptops are equipped with the necessary recording equipment, and software to produce the podcasts is available online for free. Once the content, which can include PowerPoint presentations or even video is recorded, faculty "upload" their podcasts to the iTunes University site. Morgan says WMU's Office of Information Technology can provide assistance to any faculty wishing to develop podcasts.

Those wanting more information on developing or using podcasts can contact Bradley Morgan at bradley.morgan@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5363.

Media contact: Marie Lee, (269) 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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