iTunes U is a free Apple service that allows educational institutes to make audio and video podcasts available for download on any electronic device that has access to iTunes and the Internet.
There are currently only five Canadian universities sharing content through iTunes U: the University of British Columbia, Queen's University, l'Université de Montréal, Brock University, and Dalhousie University.
Joan van Dyck, communications director at TWU, says iTunes U is “a tool that allows us to do something we haven't been able to do before.”
She points out that podcasts, particularly videos, will showcase TWU's accomplishments.
The TWU iTunes project is currently a University Communications Department endeavour, but other departments on campus have offered ideas as well.
Members of UComm initially met with representatives from other departments, such as the Strategic Systems Team, Student Media, Athletics, and Alumni Relations to gather input.
“Primarily, UComm is striving to introduce new audiences to TWU and create awareness and excitement about the university's academic, athletic, and creative endeavours,” said Jay Jameson, communications co-ordinator.
Jameson says professors have expressed their excitement to post students' work online, such as films and digital recording pieces, through this site.
Members of the Athletics staff are also eager to post podcasts highlighting the success of the Spartans sports teams.
While iTunes provides a platform for both educational and promotional podcasts, van Dyck says TWU's goal is to launch content that is informational rather than advertorial.
“The content has to speak to the educational vitality of the [institution],” said van Dyck.
UComm has been progressing with the project since last November, and is currently gathering and generating content, as well as working through copyright issues. Once there is a platform to work with, TWU must apply for approval from Apple and enter into an iTunes U service agreement. The approval process can take about two weeks.
Apple provides the iTunes U service free of charge to both the university and those who wish to download content. Its setup is similar to that of the iTunes store and is accessible via the iTunes U link in the left-hand column on the ITunes store homepage.
TWU will determine what content will be available to the public and what content will be accessible only to those students and faculty with a TWU account.
However, Jameson says that the site will initially be entirely accessible to everyone.