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From CUNY Academic Commons

Contents

Summary

Participation in CUNY’s iTunes U Rich Media project will provide a foundation upon which BCC intends to create a complete institutional architecture of rich media academic use, including production facilities for faculty and students, a full program of faculty development, and all the support resources and mechanisms needed to bring podcasting to an appropriate scale. We expect to build these goals into planning and resource allocation decisions as part of a larger strategy for:

  • strengthening distance learning offerings, and
  • integrating a range of technology proficiencies (for faculty and students) into academic programs.

Objectives
The institutional strategies elaborated above will serve a basic underlying objective: developing faculty capacity to use rich media within effective pedagogies. This means exploring the application of such media within specific courses and programs and conducting the project with specific questions in mind: In what learning contexts—academic skill level (always a consideration in the community college), discipline-based, general education-based—do audio and video content serve the best purposes? What formats work best? How are rich media resources best integrated with other student learning activities, including student production of such resources? How can we assess their impact on learning in these various contexts? In this initial phase of podcasting at BCC, the project will draw upon existing faculty capacity in selected curricular areas (language instruction, history, and a therapeutic recreation degree program), while recruiting new participants through ongoing faculty development programs. We will also explore podcasting applications in supplemental instruction, for building departmental curricular resources, and for online coursework.

Additional Objectives

  • Stimulate a dialogue on theoretical and pedagogical innovations to be acquired by each discipline (re-formulate the learning and teaching objectives).
  • The creation of common assignments and lessons and initiation of a pilot project within the Modern Languages Department to create a common oral final with podcasting.
  • Explore the potential of podcasting to increase student interest in specific subject areas.
  • Model podcasts to inspire and motivate others within different departments to incorporate podcasting as part of the curriculum.
  • Create a group of interested faculty who will commit to making podcasting more visible on campus, and train/help others in using this method in their teaching. This group will also develop criteria for training as well as learning objectives appropriate to the use of podcasts

Foreign Language objectives with podcasts: see new page: Italiano at BCC

Project Criteria

Technology

The pilot project has allowed us to establish protocols for setting up iTunes U pages, and for our project team—which includes personnel from Instructional Technology and Information Technology areas—to learn the procedures needed to integrate iTunes pages with Blackboard course sites. Additionally, we have begun to organize and build the training and production capacity we will need to aid faculty in the creation of rich media content.

Collaboration

Recruitment of participants has elicited faculty interest from a range of disciplines beyond the initial participation of History, Modern Languages, and Therapeutic Recreation. These include including Speech and Communication, Allied Health, and Education. BCC’s Office of Instructional Technology has prepared a Blackboard/ iTunes U user’s guide for participants, and has begun to offer workshops in the use of appropriate software for creating rich media.

Creative, Usable Enhancements

As faculty begin to create content, open the process to their students, and utilize the iTunes U space, we will build the sharing of rich media into existing and new faculty development programs that focus on course redesign. We anticipate that these activities will become major components of instructional technology initiatives beginning in Summer 2008.

Pedagogical Best Practices

As audio/video instructional materials are generated and integrated into instruction, and as faculty development activities incorporate rich media production, systematic evaluation of outcomes and a focus on pedagogical design will be embedded in the campus processes we build. Our goal will be to make these processes replicable and scalable, looking ahead to a future in which rich media becomes a normal part of instructional practice.

Challenges

The Itunes site is not difficult to navigate and its layout design is intuitive and friendly to manage. Challenges experienced when uploading audio and video podcasts can be identified in the following points:

  • The initial page of iTunes freezes and the connection has to be often rebooted.
  • The uploading process of videos is very slow, up to 30 minutes. Some video files that are 13 minutes long, for example, (like parts of films that have been digitalized) are timed out, making it impossible to upload movie clips, etc. The size of all of the videos uploaded was within the guidelines of the amount of MB allowed by iTunes.
  • When the uploading of a file is taking too long, the server times you out.
  • When files are uploaded into Itunes in a certain order, for example, from 1-10, iTunes instead arranges the files to a descending order, from 10-1. This process should easy to change by iTunes. It’s time consuming and convoluted.
  • I advocate the acquisition of more software and hardware for students and professors (to edit videos, to transform file extensions, etc. ) and provide a space on campus that will facilitate the production of audio and video podcasts.
  • Transforming flash files (for example from Adobe Captivate) into mp4 has proven to be a challenge. Overall iTunes makes the process of uploading difficult, since most files must be transformed into mp3 or mp4. Other servers, for example, like Podomatic, automatically transform any file as s as it is uploaded into the appropriate extension, making the process very smooth and hassle-free. Perhaps iTunes should implement this procedure.