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From CUNY Academic Commons

March 3, 2008 iTunes U Site Administrator Conference Call

Steve (PMO): There are now 17 campuses participating in the pilot project. We have requested that Apple initiate iTunes U sites for all participating campuses. Apple will send campus credentials to CIS, who will create a facility that will permit only those designated as site administrators to access the campus iTunes U configuration and design tools for your site. The credentials will then be forwarded on to designated campus iTunes U site administrators.

Feedback for the workshop: Many thought the workshop was helpful, particularly the morning session. Some thought the afternoon session focused too much on Apple’s Leopard server while highlighting Apple software file-format and compression compliance as well as seamless integration with the iTunes U environment. Some pointed out that there exist non-Apple hardware and software that could do the same in a Windows or proprietary environment. Whether one appreciated Apple’s pitch seemed to be based at least partly on whether one’s campus and technology plans included Apple hardware/software.

Daniel (York): Thought the seminar was definitely useful: a good intro with a lot of time devoted to scripting and credentialing. Podcasts at York are open to everyone, so York does not anticipate doing a whole lot of authentication. Found Apple’s Podcast Producer interesting in that it seemed to be a simple, easy-to-use solution from an administrative point of view.

Steve (PMO): Apple portrays its iTunes U support as pretty much a virtual online and community-based self-help program. Site Administrators should check out the online documentation and forums on Apple’s iTunes U support site (there’s a link to the site and forums in the sidebar of our project wiki). Forums are broken out into different functional areas. Everyone should visit the site and create a forum account. The forum is used by many (newbies as well as those with much iTunes U experience). Apple engineers also monitor the forums.

Bruce (QCC): Thought the morning very useful, but the afternoon a sales pitch for Apple; the scripting could come with practice, but authentication is an issue. Ken Lord (Queens): Thought the training well done.

Steve (PMO): The question of scripting and authentication can cause some confusion. By definition the academic or teaching and learning track of the project presupposes that authentication will be required to limit access to iTunes U hosted content to faculty and students. The modality we’ve settled on in general for providing this access control is the Vanderbilt U building block that integrates Blackboard courses with course-specific iTunes U content for designated students and faculty (see the blackboard and iTunes U page in the project wiki) Access to the iTunes U site-administrator environment will be governed by a new log-on facility that CIS will implement through the CUNY portal. Further, each campus will have two iTunes U sites: an academic site (with limited access as described) and a public site under the auspices of CUNY University Relations (open to the general public, alumni, etc.). This is the vision for the CUNY project, and it is quite consistent with how many universities and colleges approach iTunes U. Since access to academic content is already provided for by the Blackboard building block, I would urge everyone to use that method for controlling access. The Honors College has no campus-specific instance of Blackboard, and for its own purpose will have to develop some other modality for access control, probably by employing scripting to provide iTunes U with proper credentials based on their campus Active Directory. For most, it will not be necessary for you to write scripts. Apple does provide sample scripts in Perl, Python, Java, Can you write scripts. Sample scripts are available for download through the Apple support site.

Sylvie (Online Baccalaureate): [Re: the Vanderbilt University building block for Blackboard] Without a second “bridge” from Bb to iTunes U there is a requirement for a second sign-in.

Steve (PMO): See our project wiki Blackboard page. There you’ll find a series of videos that describe how the building block works. It provides credentials for faculty to upload content to iTunes U from their course and students to download or upload course content. But before this can be done, a site administrator must create a “space” in iTunes U for the specific course in question. During the pilot phase, we expect that this will be done manually. However, iTunes U does support programmatic manipulation of the iTunes environment through a series of web services (see the iTunes U Administrator’s Guide), but implementing such web services are not within the scope of the pilot project—although there is nothing to prevent a campus from utilizing web services to automate various processes at some point in the future.

Ken Lord (Queens): Everyone should watch the videos that describe how the building block integrates Blackboard and iTunes U. These are youtube.com videos that are linked to from the Blackboard page of the project wiki.

Steve (PMO): We expect that Blackboard administrators will load will load the Vanderbilt building block onto their test or staging instances of Blackboard.

Joe (Honors College): very useful if you have Leopard servers; would be more useful if we had our credentials. Steve (PMO): Apple advised that the credentials would be sent the week of March 3rd.

Joe (Honors College): Very much interested in having the content available to the general public.

Steve (PMO): iTunes U is a pilot project in that it is being mounted as a platform, an environment, something we can experiment with and learn from. We do not necessarily see this as the only avenue for rich media content. Sylvie: There are several sides to iTunes —we only got the site admin side; there are a number of people who are not but are involved such as the Blackboard sys admins. We’ll also need to bring in the leaders of the Centers of Teaching & Learning, because they are charged with getting the faculty on board.

Steve (PMO): Excellent points. That’s very true. In addressing these needs with the various campus coordinators who were asked to form each campus team, we stressed the need for representation from Academic/Instructional Technology, Blackboard System Administration as well as from CET&L. Each campus has already identified faculty and staff who will participate in the project. I have not brought the Blackboard system administrators together yet, since the full implementation and testing of the Blackboard building block requires that each campus have an iTunes U site in place. Although some of you here are acting in the dual roles of Blackboard and iTunes U administrators, on other campuses different people fill these roles. I do intend to have a teleconference where Blackboard and iTunes U administrators can level-set and discuss implementation, configuration and support issues.

Sylvie (Online Baccalaureate): We will have to come together on some sort of guidelines for compressed media; will need a common format; would be useful to have hardware recommendations for recording

Steve (PMO): question of format is interesting and need a discussion of the respective merits of each format; the idea of standardizing should be explored, particularly around the supported audio standards, mp3 and m4a (or AAC). Sylvie (Online Baccalaureate): Is there an allowance for training for such things as compression.

Steve (PMO): If you’re referring to creating, formatting and publishing audio and video content, then this is a campus issue: technology and technical support for faculty should be provided through existing mechanisms by which IT or Academic/Instructional Computing staff currently works with and assists faculty. CET&L should be supportive with respect to the pedagogical implications of teaching with rich media.

Bill (John Jay): We intend to combine the efforts of the CAT and Instructional Technology Support Services (ITSS) for effective training.

Mark (CSI): In terms of resources, is there any indication to offer some central facilities for assistance in the future; for instance could the Podcast Producer be housed centrally?

Steve (PMO): That is not within the scope of the current project.

Steve (PMO): the wiki is available as a repository for documentation related to this project. All project participants, everyone on this call does have write access to the wiki. There’s a link to an instructional video on the bottom of the wiki’s home page that illustrates some of the wiki’s features. I could do a session on the wiki for everyone if desired. Please feel empowered to use the wiki as your resource for creating new pages, modifying existing pages, adding files, etc. I’m always available to answer any questions and help you with the wiki and also the Google discussion forum that we’ve set up for the project. Alfred (Medgar Evers): Will be investing in Macbooks, so very excited about the technology

Albert and Professor Wach from BCC—as will others who were not able to attend the Apple workshop sessions last week—will have an opportunity to participate in the training in April along with others.

Mark (CSI): Would like to see future in-person conferences for personal contact and support.

Steve (PMO): Logistics are somewhat problematic with so many campuses participating in the project, but we’ll try.

Notes compiled by Bill Pangburn (John Jay) and Steve Landau (PMO). Attendees should feel free to edit, correct these meeting notes.