The folks from Apple will be on campus on Monday meeting with those of us who are spearheading Cortland’s involvement with iTunes University. It doesn’t seem like discussion on the web has shifted much since I last addressed this issue.
Those who are skeptical or more strongly opposed to the idea reject iTunes U as some kind of profit-generating/advertising/marketing scheme
- are concerned the service encourages students to skip class
- believe that recorded lectures are not as valuable as live lectures
- believe that it makes the mistake of equating course content with teaching/learning
Those who are excited
- cite tbe convenience for students
- note the benefits of being able to review lectures, catch lectures they missed for legitimate reasons, and/or access courses in which they are not enrolled
- recognize the importance of connecting with the technopractices of their students
I suppose both sides have “points.” The whole “corporations are evil” thing is a little trite for my tastes, at least for this post. As for the other business, both pro and con, it all seems to center on some form of coursecasting or another. That is, the presumption is that the podcasts would be recordings of regularly presented lectures.
Coursecasting, then seems to be the primary interest here. In this context, faculty may look to produce relatively polished media and/or integrate published media. These are products that would likely serve as a substitute for traditional course content, either lectures or readings. They would also be fairly labor-intensive to produce. Inasmuch as one imagines students with video iPods, there is some convenience, but that would have to be balanced against the labor of their production and the change in practices it would require of faculty. It is for this reason that coursecasting seems a more attractive (and likely) product: it doesn’t require faculty to do anything different than what they are already doing.
The second obvious avenue for podcasting is in courses where video or audio might already be used and/or where there addition clearly adds value. These would obviously include courses in video and audio production and new media. They might also include foreign language classes, student teaching, phys. ed. (where they are studying body movements), and I’m sure there are others. My courses are included in here as my students are learning to produce and communicate through new media.
In my estimation, the conversation about these two possibilities do little to alter the traditional teacher-student relationship. Overwhelming the flow of media is from teacher to student. There is a modicum of student-to-student sharing, analogous with workshopping rough drafts of papers. And there is student-to-teacher communication for the purpose of evaluation.
However, I am also interested in the idea of the informal media where the flow of information shifts. This shift relies on informality because formal media is too labor intensive for regular communication. That is, if formally produced media are analogous to the lecture or the student essay, then informal media would be the equivalent of a blog post or comment or wiki entry. I am curious to see if this will happen. For example, we read an essay or watch some media, then I post an audio file or a talking head video making some comment or raising a question, just as I might normally do in text. The students then reply in audio or video, equally informally. So here are questions I expect to find some answers to next year:
- Will they do that?
- Will they find it interesting or an inconvenience?
- Will the switch in media make their responses more or less considered?
- Will students (and faculty) compose and revise in text and then record A/V or will they speak of the cuff? (or will they oscillate between the two modes depending on mood, rhetorical purpose, audience?)