3. iTunes U - Free Thinking!
In early 2008 the University wished to create an easily and quickly navigable site for all its public audio and video material, much of which was difficult to find, and spread across many departmental websites. The decision was taken to place the institution in the popular Apple iTunes site, with a parallel web version.
Since Oxford joined iTunes U in October, its material leapt straight to the top of the charts. A snapshot of the global site taken in the last week of October found Oxford taking the top two spots in the iTunes U charts and dominating many of the subject areas.
Oxford's first big podcast hit, an examination of the credit crunch by the American economist Joseph Stiglitz, delivered at the University's May Day public lecture, has been joined by a variety of public lectures, seminar series and conference proceedings from around the University. The site currently includes over 500 items and over 200 hours of material with new material regularly added in all categories.
New podcasts include:
- Global recession: How did it happen?
- Researching the phenomenon of Facebook
- Experts on global catastrophic risks
- Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary
- Muhammad Yunus - A poverty free world? When?
- Reframing human rights in the global era
- Cancer in the developing word
- Effective climate policy
- Building a business
The OUCS project team is delighted with its early success on iTunes. It has taken just 4 months to reach nearly half a million downloads in total, including 200,000 subscriptions. "It's getting us such a fantastic audience," says Carolyne Culver, the University's head of strategic communications.
"Stiglitz on the credit crunch used to reside on the website of one of our departments and it was getting 3-400 downloads a month. In three weeks in October it got 16,500 downloads and remained on top of the charts for weeks."
The wealth of material that the University owns will be of great interest to current students, staff and researchers; to alumni and benefactors; and to applicants, visitors and the intellectually curious.
If you are interested in getting your departmental material available to a wider audience, perhaps recording talks, events or student-led activities, then contact the project team, firstname.lastname@example.org and check the OUCS courses site for a regular series of introductions to podcasting.