HBCU First In North Carolina System To Join iTunes U Program

Education majors at North Carolina Central University will be using Apple iPod technology and iTunes software to download classroom materials via the Internet as early as fall 2006. The move by the historically Black school makes it the first public university in North Carolina — and reportedly the nation’s first historically Black institution — to join the iTunes U program.

Dr. Cecelia Steppe-Jones, the dean of the NCCU School of Education, says the deal with Apple will allow faculty members to “podcast” their lectures. Still a relatively new technology, podcasting is the transmission of audio or video information over the Internet. The podcast can then be downloaded by an iPod or another digital video player. Apple is providing training and a free, dedicated 24-hour Web service called iTunes U for NCCU. The web-based service allows for the creation and storage of the podcasts.

“To engage this cell-phone generation, we have to deliver instruction using their preferred means of communication, which is both digital and now portable,” Steppe-Jones says.  

During the first of three training sessions, starting today (Friday), Steppe-Jones will be distributing audio and video capable iPods to faculty members in the School of Education as well as teacher education coordinators in the College of Arts and Sciences. The training sessions were designed to help faculty get comfortable with the features of the iPod and learn how to create and upload a podcast. One key objective of the iTunes U program is for faculty to use the iPods in their ongoing professional development. At NCCU and other iTunes U schools such as Stanford University and the University of Michigan’s dental school, faculty members need to have a comfort level with the technology before they can be expected to produce and distribute podcasts to their students, says Deborah Eaton, the director of technology for the School of Education.

Eaton is overseeing the adoption of the iPod and iTunes technology and is managing the technology integration process. According to Eaton, iPods, while known to the broader public principally as music playing devices, can be used to download and play back everything from lectures to movies and plays and even foreign language tutorials.

“Now [faculty] can be in two places at once; as they play podcasts of meetings, conventions, or lectures in the car or while they’re waiting at the doctor’s office,” Eaton says. “Of course, podcasts can be played on the computer too, on the university’s Blackboard® platform, but the future is mobile.”



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