Posted by: topher274 | July 6, 2010

iTunes U

Many of my readers will know that I am a man of gregarious disposition, and one of my favorite things is meeting new people, particularly when a long conversation follows.

This past weekend, out in western New York, I had the wonderfully good fortune to get invited to a small-town 4th of July parade and picnic by some old college friends. A combination of relaxing by the pond, roasting marshmallows, and other good time-y activities, I was introduced to a couple, some friends of the family, Aaron and Mary.

I think it’s been a while since I’ve met so pleasant, smart, engaged, clear thinking and so well spoken individuals (I’ve been watching too much news). We had a great discussion of various theological, biblical and scientific issues until we were finally conquered by the mosquitoes and the late hour.

It was toward the end of the evening that I mentioned iTunes U in passing to Mary. She had never heard of it. Perhaps you’ve never heard of it either. I know I am severely out of touch, but I suppose I thought just about everyone knew about this incredible quantum leap in higher education, called iTunes U. But if folks as wonderful as Mary and Aaron haven’t heard about it, I think that is more than enough reason to rant and rave a little here :)

iTunes U is a collection the audio and/or video recordings of lectures from the courses of hundreds of colleges and universities around the country and the world. All for free.

Let me say that again and let it sink in. All for free. 600 universities. 250,000 lectures and videos and more besides. All for free. I don’t know about you, but I payed $127,000 for four years of undergraduate education. These universities are charging nothing for a thousand years of undergraduate education.

Now which universities and colleges might these be? Obscure and strange ones like Appalachian State university, Bristol Community college, and Glamorgan? Yes. But also Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Yale and many more of the best schools in the world have dozens of courses on iTunes U. Hear me, not just dozens of lectures, dozens of whole courses. Oxford not your cup of tea? There are tons of specialty schools for whatever you like. Would you like to learn Biblical Greek? Concordia Seminary has a 161 video series. Multi-variable Calculus? Take your pick of MIT, UC Berkley, or North Carolina State University.

I do not claim to understand the implication of so much high quality teaching and information all available for free. I indeed have barely scratched the surface. Right now, I’m listening to Geography 20: Globalization by Dr. Robert Acker. I was an Intercultural Studies major in college, but this Berkley course is taught much more from an economics point of view. It is wonderful.

Well, I hope that my frantic writing has come across as true to my flabbergasted state. I suppose I just love learning so much and there is so much out there that I want to know and learn about – this is just too fantastic.

P.S. if you can’t figure out how to access it all, open iTunes, and on the left, click “iTunes Store”. Toward the top of the screen, there will be a dark grey bar, click “iTunes U” on the right. It will show you all the featured lectures and courses, but I recommend clicking on “Universities & Colleges” in the upper right to see the full catalog of schools.

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