The Apple iPod started as a personal music device, but is now making its way as a portable education tool.Amber Finn, instructor of communication studies, started podcasting in the Basic Speech Communication class this semester as part of a pilot operation for Web-based classes.
“We are already doing audio lectures through e-college, so now students can watch and listen to the lectures,” Finn said.
The idea for using the iTunes feature of podcasting was introduced by Jess Price, a media producer for the Center for Instructional Services.
Price said the idea for the podcasts came up last January, but some TCU faculty were not quite ready or equipped for the new technology.
The podcasts are part of the emerging iTunes U program, Price said.
The program has already been put into affect at Stanford University and Duke University, Finn said.
According to the Apple Web site, iTunes U is a Web service that provides access to educational content for university students to use.
“We could be one of a handful of universities to have iTunes U,” Finn said.
Though the podcasts are currently only being used in the College of Communication, there are hopes to continually integrate the podcasts into other classrooms, Finn said.
One problem with using the podcasts in all the lectures is the risk of lowering attendance in classes, Finn said, though she offered a solution.
“They could be used in addition to the lecture, or there could be a few key points online for students,” Finn said.
Price added that using the same material from lectures in podcasts could be useful in classes, and that while it may prompt students not to come to lecture, it could also be useful to review lectures.
Price said athletes travel and miss class, so it makes sense to use podcasting material in these situations.
Finn said another problem with podcasting is that some students don’t have iTunes.
“Students can also use Windows Media Player if they do not download iTunes, but it takes longer to run with it,” Finn said.
Some students in the College of Communication have already started using the podcasts, Finn said.
Justin Colvard, a sophomore biochemistry major, said he uses the podcasts beyond the classroom walls.
“I listen to the lectures while running,” he said. “It is easy to just get on iTunes and download.”
Katie Glonek, a graduate student and teaching assistant for the Basic Speech Communication class admits she has not used the podcast yet, but did say it was a good way for her students to consolidate their time.
“I don’t think students will skip class,” Glonek said. “Professor Finn has tailored the course so the podcasts are supplemental to the class.”
Playing into modern technological trends was one of the goals of podcasting, Price said.
“We were trying to meet the needs of the majority,” Price said. “There are students everywhere with iPods, so we know they have iTunes.”
Bekah Dale, a freshman business major, said she was surprised classes are using podcasts, but said it makes sense because it seems that everyone has iTunes or iPods.
Since the project is still in the trial phase, there will be an evaluation taken at the end of the half-semester communication class, Finn said.
Jennifer Smolik, another teaching assistant for the Basic Speech Communication course, said the podcasts are still going through a trial run.
“This is mainly a test period,” she said. “We will get our feedback at the end of the eight-week course.