Earlier, I wrote about Stanford's innovative use of Apple's iTunes platform for distributing campus content - lectures, seminars, and so on. Today we are hearing a couple of more newsworthy items related to iTunes.
Most people are focused on the first announcement, that Apple has begun loosening the restrictive Digital Rights Management (DRM) controls that have - among other things - limited iTunes music from playing on non-iPod devices. I'm more interested in the second announcement.
This is the announcement of iTunes U as a free service available to colleges and universities for distributing content from their own campuses. Using the slogan, "the campus that never sleeps," Apple explains the nationwide roll-out this way:
Already, more than half of the nation’s top 500 schools use it to distribute their digital content to students — or to the world. Any school can open all or part of its site to the public, from alumni to parents to anyone with a love of learning.
The iTunes Music Store online has a section filled with free content such as classroom lectures, lab session demos, athletic broadcast highlights and even campus tours - from not only Stanford, but UC Berkeley, MIT, Duke, Otis College of Art & Design, Arizona State, Michigan Tech and many others. Schools using iTunes U agree to broadcast educational content through the iTunes Store, and it's a win-win-win situation:
- Schools get visibility for research, teaching, athletics, and more.
- Apple gets more customers in the iTunes store.
- We get access to cool content.
We'll see if schools involved are willing and able to update the content continuously or if some of them let their initial uploads become stale. Apple's marketing rhetoric is, as always, hyperbolic - but don't sell this development short. It will have measurable implications for the way alumni and friends interact with our campuses. We should be planning to use it to our advantage and to market our campuses' content to alumni and friends.