Tuesday, 18 August 2009

To iTunesU, or not to iTunesU

Had an interesting discussion today about whether we should establish a presence on iTunesU.
Many issues to look at including technical ones (how do we do it), what do we use it for (marketing, academic content, research dissemination), how does it fit in with other hosting mechanisms (our own streaming media servers, YouTube etc). Obviously the major question is should we do it - what are the benefits to us, and what are the costs. Benefits are difficult to quantify - how will know if it's bringing in more or better students, or improving our research profile?

And what about the content - we have some good existing stuff, but what resources will be needed to keep producing enough high quality content to keep the site fresh and interesting? Content will be key - we need to determine what it is we're trying to do, and the mechanism by which we disseminate it follows that. So, a strategy document is being prepared.....


John said...

Oh boy, a strategy document!

Of course high quality lecture material could go on iTunes, I watch lots of the lecture courses there and they certainly do raise the University's profile.

On the other hand, the promotional videos have the opposite effect!

It seems like the sort of stuff that could be safely left to departments to produce, without a strategy document.

Chris Sexton said...

Agree totally - departments could produce really high quality stuff and it would raise the University's profile.

The "strategy" we're now looking at is should we be putting a lot of effort into iTunesU (and it does require a lot of effort), or using a YouTube channel, or hosting it ourselves, or using Google video, or all of them, or none of them, or some of them.

Andrew Male said...

How about using all of them for a short time and measuring the effort involved versus the interest each generates?

Nick Skelton said...

Don't use Google Video - it became a dead service as soon as Google bought Youtube

Use Youtube for your promotional videos. You want a presence on Youtube, as that is where your prospective students are.

Use the public version of iTunesU for your public lectures, and to showcase some of your undergraduate lectures. Use the private version of iTunesU for everything else. You still host the files, but give Apple the metadata so that it appears in an easy interface.

As for quality - whether the lecturers are engaging (both in the lecture theatre and on the camera) is more important than the video quality.

As for resources - do most of your lectures as MP3 audio podcasts only. Still a lot of work, but much less effort than video, and just as useful for most purposes.

60% of Bristol students in our survey said they wanted audio or video recordings of lectures. It was the second highest request (after web access to the filestore, which we've already done).


Liam Green-Hughes said...

If you use iTunesU bear in mind it is not universally available, it is not available for Linux. A lot of people might tell you that this doesn't matter, but it does as it is a growing platform on netbooks for example.

At the OU I am proud to say we have a podcast platform that supports not only iTunesU but also has a podcast site with RSS feeds, Miro support and now we have support for Boxee too. This is all supported from a common back end, so it is possible to serve multiple clients without having separate systems. It might be worth starting by building a podcast website accessible to all first and then building an iTunesU service on top of that.

Carl Marshall said...

Hello Chris,

Have you heard about the JISC Steeple Project? It's purpose is to show how podcasting can be done on an institutional scale and make the process easier for all. We also have a growing community of UK HEI who are working with us to ensure breadth and depth of knowledge. We're all very familiar with the various outlets you've mentioned too.

Take a look at http://steeple.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ or drop an email to steeple@oucs.ox.ac.uk if you'd like to know more.