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Apple have announced the ePub (one of the eBook formats) is now available on iTunes U. Users of iTunes have been able to view eBooks in ePub format for some time using the iBook app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but users of iTunes U have been restricted to distributing text using PDF.
Brian Kelly has recently been questioning What Are UK Universities Doing With iTunesU? as well as iTunes U: an Institutional Perspective, which is a guest post by Jeremy Speller, Director of Web Services at UCL. In the later post Jeremy highlights that for many iTunes U is ‘PR fluff’, mainly used by institutions to market their brand over any educational benefit. Jeremy saying:
For some reason this view is quite prevalent among those who don’t use the system and in my opinion misses the point of iTunes U completely. Sure, there is publicity to be had and, in UCL’s case as a launch partner, was valuable. Of course general PR shorts can be provided. But the real assets should be educational and examples of your institution’s scholarship.
I have to put my hand up and say I’m in the ‘iTunes U is a PR tool’ camp, but can you blame me when the Open University’s VC Martin Bean highlights that 88% of their iTunes U traffic is from outside the UK and is perceived as free marketing.
There is undoubtedly a cost to making resources available, to the point that even one of the biggest players in this field MIT are considering an OER paywall. At the same time there are also benefits, if not educationally, as a marketing opportunity. This in itself has got to be a good thing, stimulating the sector to release content, even if it is just to grab headlines. Besides I’m quite enjoying iTunes U poker: I see your Shakespeare’s First Folio joins iTunes U and raise you OU makes one hundred interactive eBooks available on iTunes U.
[And guess what if you need a tool to make ePub eBooks our Create&Convert tool can help.]
A research note written by a 15-year-old Morgan Stanley intern on the media habits of his generation made it to the front page of the Financial Times this week sparking various headlines including ‘Twitter is not for teens, Morgan Stanley told by 15-year-old expert’ and ‘Teenage media habits: was the whiz-kid correct?’.
Apart from various other teenagers being poked and prodded by journalists to give their analysis of teen-media Jenna McWilliams at the Guardian asked “Why is one 15-year-old’s middling analysis of teen media use being interpreted as the new bible of social media?”.
The answer is simple. We’re lost in a forest, and we’re looking for a guide to lead us out. We live in a world where knowledge is abundant and access is near-ubiquitous. What’s scarce is the ability to sift through the information, to extract, synthesise and circulate key ideas to a public that’s starving for someone to serve as an intelligent filter. Lost in the new media universe – guardian.co.uk
Hopefully MASHe is serving as ‘an intelligent filter’ (although by highlighting the ‘middling analysis’ of a teenager I’m probably setting myself up for a fall – the full copy of the research note is here).
The UHI Millennium Institute has recently been granted degree awarding powers by the Privy Council. This is a key step towards gaining a full university title. Previously degrees from the UHI were validated by the Open University and the change gives the Institute more flexibility in developing new courses. UHI Millennium Institute have a full press release on their site. Congratulations UHI!!!
[I must admit I missed this story when it first came out (I blame my parents, they live in the UHI heartland, I'm surprised they never mentioned it :-)].
SAC have announced that after two years hard work they will become Scotland’s newest higher education institution in August 2008. Previously education at SAC was funded via the Rural Affair Department of the Scottish Government. From 1st August SAC will become a full member of Universities Scotland and receive funding from the Scottish Funding Council. SAC have made a full press release on their site. Congratulations SAC!!!
Yesterday saw the the publication of the first interim report from the Joint Future Thinking Taskforce on Universities on ‘New Horizons: responding to the challenges of the 21st century’. Various papers comment on the potential implications of this report for Scotland’s universities funding (see ‘Related Google News Feed’ for examples). As well as outlining a roadmap for a framework for the future of funding the report highlights what the Taskforce sees as the current strengths of Scotland’s universities. These include:
- three Scottish universities in the world’s top 100 research universities
- three universities in ranked in the top 10 new universities in the UK
- 4.3% of Scottish students fail to leave university with a successful outcome (degree, other award or transfer to another educational programme)
So are we probably the best higher education in the world?
Last week the BBC reported that the University College London, the Open University and Trinity College Dublin are putting lectures onto ‘iTunes U’. Course material on iTunes isn’t new and in March Brain Kelly (UK Web Focus) highlighted that one of the UKs ‘Top of the Pods, Podpickers’ was the University of Bath whose podcasts were “popular enough to get us featured in the top 50 podcast originator on i-Tunes in the “Science and Medicine” section, ahead of any other university in the world.”
There is a very good article in the Times Higher Education which touches on the pros and cons of podcasts asking the question are ‘Podcasts set to know lectures off the podium’.
“Dealing with 100-250 emails a week, spending over half your time on administration, coping with rising seminar and lecture sizes, but spending less time with students.” UCU 2008
These are the findings of a recent UCU survey of 321 higher education lecturers. The headline figures are:
- more than half of lecturers (53.9%) say they spend most of their working week dealing with administration
- over half of lecturers (53.6%) spend at least 15 hours a week on administration with a quarter (27.4%) devoting more than 25 hours of their working week to the task
- more than a quarter (28.7%) said they deal with over 250 emails a week and those with 250 or more emails a week said they did just 0-5 hours of research a week, 5-15 hours of teaching, but 25 hours or more of administration
- over two thirds (71%) reported increases in class sizes at their institution in the last 10 years, but only a quarter (23.4%) said they now spend more time with students than they did a decade ago
- of the 71% who reported growing class sizes, nearly half (44%) said they were spending less time with students.
More information on these figures is available in this UCU news briefing.