Students at USF will soon have a legitimate reason for keeping those recognizable white earbuds around their neck.

USF has established a partnership with Apple Computer Inc. to provide the general public, as well as University students, with iTunes U – an educational service that incorporates the user-friendly layout of Apple’s iTunes music organizing software. USF and Apple signed a contract earlier this month, according to a University Relations press release.

According to USF Vice President of Academic Affairs and Educational Outreach Kathleen Moore, the iTunes U service will offer a variety of public and private educational information.

The public side will be open to anyone who wishes to access the information, with content ranging from University information for current and prospective students, public lectures and University announcements.

“All of the content will be provided by USF – our lecture series, as well as content that will vary from course to course,” Moore said. “From the public page, users will be able to access all of the services provided by Apple’s iTunes as well as University content.”

The second part of iTunes U will be a private Web site, which Moore said will require some sort of authentication. The private site will be designed to work in conjunction with Blackboard, where students will be able to access specific information and content posted by their professors from their classes. It will act as a supplementing alternative to the student information database, and it eventually may have a direct link to the educational information resource page used by USF students.

“There are all kinds of possibilities for iTunes U and the types of content used,” Moore said. “A lot of the faculty are excited at the possibilities iTunes provides as a learning resource for students.”

The information can be viewed or listened to on a computer, or it can be transferred to an iPod.

The free service will be accessible 24 hours a day, and it will work in conjunction with other specialized teaching and learning initiatives already in place, according to the press release.

According the Apple Web site, USF will be the only state-funded university in the Southern region to provide the iTunes U service to students, joining universities such as UC-Berkley, Stanford University, the School of Dentistry at University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The iTunes U service will initially launch at USF with two different Web sites: one for USF Health and one for the College of Education. It may later expand to other colleges, schools, departments and fields of study throughout USF, the press release said.

The presence of iTunes U is intriguing to some students at USF.

“I’d use that if it was offered in my field of study,” said Alex Padron, a senior majoring in engineering. “It’d be pretty cool. I don’t use iTunes yet, but I have so much involvement with it through friends and family that it seems it would be really helpful.”

However, Padron offered his skepticism.

“It depends on a professor’s willingness to use new technology,” Padron said. “I have several professors who refuse to use Blackboard.”