UT partners with iTunes U, offers free educational resources

Joan Vinson

UT will make lectures and course materials available for free in its new partnership with Apple’s iTunes U, which already offers more than 500,000 educational resources.

The iTunes U platform allows participating universities to distribute their content around the world. Students can access UT content on a range of topics with lectures and content from four of its 17 colleges and schools and additional content from the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Division of Student Affairs. The College of Natural Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Education and the Cockrell School of Engineering have course material posted on the service. Their collections include audio and video from lectures and material from departments and libraries across the University.

Unlike edX, a nonprofit distributor of interactive online courses that UT partnered with earlier this month, iTunes U content is not offered in course format, said Noel Strader, director of educational technology in the Center for Teaching and Learning. Instead, iTunes U offers individual lectures and podcasts to anyone without requiring users to enroll. Strader said UT joined the service to make some of its resources available to current students and the outside world.

“There are all kinds of great lectures out there, not only from UT but from other institutions,” Strader said. “Students can use iTunes U to get information while studying for a class.”

Engineering professor Randy Machemehl said he began using iTunes U to collaborate with a former student working as the Dean of Engineering at the University of Jordan. Machemehl said he shares his teaching materials with instructors at the University of Jordan who then use them as a supplement to their own lectures.

“It turns out that the lectures are also handy for students in my class,” Machemehl said. “Plus the price is right. It’s free.”

Engineering assistant professor Michael Webber said he is not paid to post lectures, but rather makes them available digitally as a way to increase their availability to the broader public. As part of one of his courses, Webber requires students to produce podcasts on energy technology and policy, which he publishes on iTunes U.

“I think iTunes U is benefiting students by increasing the exposure of their work,” Webber said. “It also helps other students and prospective students who want to access the information but can’t afford to enroll in the University.”

Printed on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 as: UT, iTunes U team up to offer free content