Apple’s foray into distance learning

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

From the Guardian:

Sleeping off a hangover and missing a lecture may no longer be such a problem. The education arm of the Apple computer company in Europe is developing a pilot of a new system of recording and rebroadcasting lectures within an hour of the professor packing away their notes.
The forthcoming QuickTime 2 Really Simple Syndication (RSS) technology, a development program to be launched in Europe in the spring, will allow the lecturer to record their own “performance” – their slides, notes and details of student assignments as they deliver them live to the students in the lecture hall.

Once the lecture is over, the technology behind the system can turn the content into suitable files and automatically upload them to Apple’s iTunes network or connect it to RSS feeds that students, and others, can subscribe to.

From there, the student who couldn’t make the lecture, wanted to revise for exams or those who are engaged in distance learning can access the files, either manually or by subscription to an RSS feed, and play the lecture back on a video-enabled iPod or a home computer.

The software for such a feed will be made available on an open access basis, so the outlay for universities would be in the hardware – a camera and an Apple computer to perform the file conversion. After that, the system will work across the platforms.

The system is similar to that currently piloted by Stanford University in the US which already supplies, through Stanford on iTunes, downloads of faculty lectures, campus events, performances, book readings, music recorded by Stanford students and podcasts of Stanford American football games. Stanford also has a controlled-access website through which students can download course materials. The restricted-access version of the site will enable students to load course lectures and other audio content and, eventually, video content, as the new video version of the iPod is established.

In Europe, where the QuickTime 2 RSS system is to be rolled out to universities first, there are expectation that versions of the technology would be made available to schools in the near future.

Right – I’m up for this. Got my own DV camera and my own laptop… where do I sign up?

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