I have written previously about the University of Hawai‘i system’s participation in the iTunes U program. It allows faculty to create course materials as either podcasts or vidcasts, and make them available through a special area of the iTunes Music Store. I am doing so with my class, The History and Development of Hawaiian Music. At the beginning of the semester we were required to send our course materials to staff at the university’s Information and Technology Services (ITS) staff in order to have materials posted. A few weeks ago they gave us the capability to do it ourselves, as well as to organize our areas as we see fit.
I was a bit surprised that there were only four classes available through iTunesU at first, and a fifth was added a week or so into the semester. One current limitation of the system is that anyone who has a hawaii.edu email address can access all of the class materials – there is currently no system in place that restricts access to students in our classes. Many faculty members are interested in podcasting their classes, but are hesistant to allow such broad access. I was, too, at first, be decided to take the plunge and let the world, or at least the UH community, see what my class is like. Not all of the material is podcast; I have quite a bit of material, practice exercises and links on our class WebCT site. Access to that site is restricted, so only registered students get full access to all materials.
We had our first quiz last Friday, and I graded the quizzes today. 80% of the students got A’s or B’s, compared to previous semesters where there was a relatively standard bell curve in the grading. The quiz was basically the same. Unfortunately there is no way to track downloads of the podcasts, however, I can track WebCT use, and without exception, students in the A & B range all were active users of that system, those below without exception used it lightly or not at all.
The class physically meets only once a week, on Friday, and the feedback so far has been positive; most students prefer the podcast lectures to meeting three days a week. I’m happy to oblige.