SHU Launches iTunes U on Campus

News Story: September 7, 2008

This fall Sacred Heart University will further embrace Apple computing technology, launching iTunes U for its students and faculty, and offering Macintosh laptops — as an alternative to PCs — to incoming freshmen.

Beginning September 1, using iTunes U, anyone in the SHU community will have access to audio and video of lectures, interviews, athletic events, professor podcasts, course support materials and other multimedia offerings to enhance the college educational experience and to showcase events at the university.

“Part of what we do in the IT group is continuously look at ways in which we can infuse new technology throughout our community,” says Robert Tullonge, director of Academic Computing at SHU. “What’s more, this particular technology does not require us to make major changes to our infrastructure, because the student population and much of the community is already well-versed in how to use iTunes. So offering content within iTunes U was really a winner for us.”

The initial launch will include mostly lectures, athletics and public relations content, followed by academic offerings during the course of the fall semester. “We’re acquiring some additional hardware and upgrading our infrastructure to allow a faculty members to use this resource in the classrooms,” Tullonge says. “Some professors — particularly in foreign-language courses — have already been producing podcasts on their own, and this will allow them to distribute them even more easily.”

Access to SHU’s iTunes U network will be free for anyone in the community, and will work on a subscription basis; once new content is available, users connected to the service will be immediately notified.

“I think the launch is extremely exciting, and because the students are familiar with this technology, I believe it’s going to be well received,” Tullonge says. “Additionally, iTunes U will be a boon to the learning environment at SHU, primarily because it directly impacts the academic and campus-life arena.”

In conjunction with the campus’ iTunes U launch, Sacred Heart has this year begun offering Mac laptops to incoming freshmen as an alternative to PCs. The latter has been provided to students since the mid-1990s.

Michael Trimble, SHU’s vice president for Information Technology and Security, says that the university knew some students would opt for the Macs, but they were surprised by how many. “We had estimated that 40 percent of the students coming in would say they wanted a Mac and 60 percent would stick with a Windows-based machine,” Trimble says. “But it was actually almost reverse of that: 65 percent of the incoming class said they wanted Macs. It could be that kids have had more exposure to Macs in their previous schooling, or because of the wide use of iPods, it could be that students are more comfortable with Apple technology in general.”

In the past four years, SHU has given Mac laptops to Media Studies and Art and Design majors, so the campus already has a technology support system for Apple computers. To shore up that support in preparation for the new program, Trimble had all of the university’s full-time technicians trained and certified in Mac repair, to go along with their previous certifications to service the campus’ PC offering, Lenovo ThinkPads.

Additionally, due to the Macintosh laptop’s ability to run Windows software, they will be fully compatible with SHU’s existing data network.