A handheld education

It is hard to walk across a college campus these days and not see at least a dozen 20-somethings hurrying to class with a pair of conspicuous white wires coming out of their ears.

In an effort to further capitalize off of their prime demographic, Apple Computers has launched a new service, specially designed for college campuses, called iTunes U.

Inspired by the popularity of podcasting, Apple’s new “coursecasting” now allows a student to conveniently carry lectures and notes from their classes on their iPods. By simply downloading the information uploaded to iTunes by the professor, students can access vital course information through their iPods at the gym, on the road or anywhere else they may feel an urge for enlightenment.

Similar to Sam Houston State University’s Blackboard system, iTunes U offers audio and video capabilities and can be customized using the college’s colors, logos and images.

Many universities have already taken advantage of the cutting-edge service, such as Stanford, Duke, Brown and Texas A&M.

As with all business endeavors, Apple hopes that helping to educate the student population will also lead to big payoffs for the company.

In order to view the video capability, users would need the new 5th generation iPod, which Apple believes will encourage students who do not already own an iPod to purchase one.

Though iTunes U isn’t currently offered at SHSU, Bearkats who already own iPods may not have to wait long to begin using the new service. According to James Van Roekel, Director of Academic Instructional Technology and Distance Learning Academic Affairs, SHSU has been working to implement iTunes U on campus since this past summer.

However, many professors have said they fear the new service could lead to a decline in classroom attendance because of the ability to receive course information without actually attending the lecture.

SHSU Apple representative Josh Cornejo defends iTunes U.

“This is not a substitution for class, but a useful tool to make class more efficient,” he said.

To curb the problem, Cornejo said students could attend class after learning the information through iTunes U and be able to reference it again from their iPod while having an open discussion or be quizzed over the material.

In addition to convenient education, Apple and universities can also benefit from iTunes U through the incentive rewards program. When a student buys music from the iTunes music store, a portion of the purchase will go to their university.

More importantly, Apple hopes iTunes U will also help Apple’s iPod remain the dominant portable music player on college campuses.

With Apple constantly coming out with new and innovative ideas, this latest iTunes U development could lead to faster information flow and tighter hold on the market for the Apple Corporation.

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