Michigan on iTunes U now available

U-M hosts a vast array of lectures, debates, performances and events each year — if only a person could get to all of them. Now, there is a way to catch a special guest speaker or take in a compelling lecture from anywhere in the world.
(Image by Alicia Vazquez, Michigan Marketing & Design)

Michigan on iTunes U launched last week at www.itunes.umich.edu. Working with iTunes U makes it possible for hundreds of University events to be available in audio or video formats to audiences across the globe via the familiar iTunes Store, says David Lampe, vice president for communications.

"Michigan on iTunes U will allow us to showcase the richness and vitality of our campus, ranging from lectures by our own faculty to presentations by the many experts from outside of U-M," Lampe says. "It provides prospective students, alumni and anyone else who is interested with ready access to a wealth of audio and video material from across the University."

From Saturday Morning Physics lectures, to U-M TechCasts that feature the latest in technology transfer, to UMHS news releases recorded in English and Spanish, the site is intended to feature public content from all U-M departments and units. It is organized by topic: arts, business, environment, to name a few; and by broader categories: features, select courses and series, and news and notes.

In the familiar iTunes Store format, visitors can find lists of audio and video content. Users select desired content by downloading the segments to their computers or iPods. One big difference: the content is free.

The success of Michigan on iTunes U will require campus participation, says Brett Ashley, director of Michigan Marketing & Design, creators and managers of the site.
In the familiar iTunes Store format, visitors to Michigan on iTunes U can find lists of audio and video content — all available free.

"Michigan Marketing & Design will populate the site but the success of this venture will be dependent on schools and colleges sharing their pre-recorded content with us," Ashley says, adding that tools and instructions for submitting material can be found on the site.

In this latest collaboration, U-M joins some 40 other universities currently participating in iTunes U. One of the early institutions to sign on was Stanford, which reports 1.8 million downloads of its content since Spring 2005.

The University's work with iTunes is not new. In 2005, first-year dental student Jared Van Ittersum wanted to know why all of the lectures he attended couldn't be available electronically so that he and his classmates could review the material. The School of Dentistry and iTunes collaborated on a project to record lectures of faculty and give access to students enrolled in a particular course, but not make the content available for the general public. As a result, students in dentistry and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business can log in today using a secure site and download course lectures and other discipline-specific content.

Michigan on iTunes U
A sample of programs:
• Ask the Podcast Doctor: Dr. David Stutz answers health questions
• Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Lecture series
• Sports Essays from John U. Bacon
• UMHS and News Service reports on research and events
• Lectures on Latino Culture and news in Spanish

Lynn Johnson, director of dentistry informatics and professor of periodontics and oral medicine, was instrumental in creating that early relationship as well as the recent one. She stresses that Michigan on iTunes U is different from the previous arrangement. Although portions of lectures and classroom activities that faculty members agree to share will make up some of the content, the material will be for general public consumption.

"We have been asked for content from all around the world," Johnson says, adding that international organizations "trying to raise the educational bar in Third World countries" are among those interested in what U-M produces. "They can't buy books but they have Internet access, so isn't it the right thing to do to help them out? It is a great way to showcase what we do while being role models and good citizens."

Ashley reminds schools and colleges that it is important to obtain permission before recording speakers. Release forms are available on the Communicators' Forum site, mmd.umich.edu/forum/guidelines.html#photos.