iTunes U

The announcement by Apple Inc recently about the launch of the iTunes U application for the iPad and iPhone, and related enhancements in online courseware development for iTunes U, has created rather a buzz in academic circles around the world.  You see, heavyweight institutions like Harvard and Oxford Universities, MIT, and the mighty British Open University, seem to be making a lot of courseware available there - for free.

There has accordingly been some interest here at UCT in getting official approval for courseware submissions.  It's difficult to know what's not to like about this: visibility from all over the world, promotion of the UCT brand, uptake of UCT-developed materials by other institutions, and new things to do for the Centre for Educational Technology, among others.

Oh, there is the "Apple factor" to possibly worry about, meaning the locking-in of participants to one technology and one interface - but iTunes works on both PCs and Macs, which should take care of that objection, and I remind you, most offerings are FREE.

While this may not immediately appear to have relevance to the eResearch Portal (as we are coming to know it), it certainly does for the instruction of research students - which is after all, a core activity of researchers at this institution.

iBooks Author

Another announcement from Steve's Company was of less general interest, but loomed large in the interest bubble of committed iPad enthusiasts.  Like me, it seems almost redundant to say. 

This was that Apple was making available - for free - the iBooks Author app, for constructing iBooks for use on the iPad.  There has been a lot of grumbling about the EULA for this as well, given that it is necessary to use ONLY Apple's online store to sell anything developed for sale - which completely ignores the fact that it is possible to circulate iBooks for free via email or other electronic means, to any iPad user you like.

I have been having a great deal of fun with this: it is also an EXCELLENT means of painlessly making PDFs for instructional or informational purposes, which can of course be opened on any platform.

We WILL assimilate you....