Digital resource use increases on campus

From streaming video and databases in the USF Library to reaching large numbers of iTunes U downloads, USF’s educational resources are becoming increasingly more digital.

Apple iTunes U hit 600 million downloads this month and USF notched in among the highest-ranking contributors, with more than 20 million downloads since 2007.

Open University and Stanford University rank among the highest users of iTunes U, which allows colleges to post free educational content through print, digital audio and video downloads, with more than 30 million downloads each. Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of California, Berkeley, join USF with more than 20 million downloads each, according to Apple Insider.

Roy Winkelman, director of the College of Education’s (COE) Florida Center for Instructional Technology, said COE has created most of USF’s iTunes U content since the University signed a partnership with iTunes in 2006.

“iTunes U has both a public-and-private facing side,” he said. “The public stuff is what anyone in the world can see and that adds to the luster of USF. We were one of the first universities to work with iTunes, so we kind of had a head start from some of the other (schools). We have a nice loyal following, right on the top tier of universities that are using iTunes for public-facing content.”

Yet, iTunes U is not the primary venue for digital options at the Library, which Winkelman said ranks second behind the College of Education (COE) in iTunes U downloads.

Barbara Lewis, coordinator for digital collections at the Library, said the Library has content on iTunes U, but now uses YouTube more often.

“We have content in iTunes U, but I honestly don’t know when was the last time we added new stuff to it,” she said. “It’s one of those things that are on my radar, but we have other ways of presenting the media, so we haven’t been keeping things up to date there.”

Lewis said digital collections post content on topics ranging from the Holocaust to environmental sustainability to YouTube on roughly a monthly basis. She said she prefers the medium because students can access YouTube from their computers or mobile devices.

“One of the things we believe in is multiple points of access,” she said. “As librarians, we’re always looking to see where people go to get (information) and then we try to put our stuff there.”

She said the media budget is about $40,000 to purchase resources like streaming video, DVDs and CDs.

“This year, we’re really trying to track (e-resources better),” she said. “We’re trying to shift to a separate budget just for the e-resources.”

The Library also offers documentaries, educational videos and databases.

“We’ve really started collecting a much larger collection of streaming video and streaming audio products,” she said. “Over the last few years, we’ve really found that a lot of traditional media hardcopy vendors are definitely going towards the digital online versions of their products.”

Carlos Zalaquett, a professor in education, said he uses iTunes U to post class introduction videos for his students.

“(The students) really seem to like it,” she said. “They’ve said it’s easier to understand because it’s a complicated course and they seem to do better with the video (outline).”

Winkelman said he came up with the idea of creating audiobooks online more than 10 years ago. The idea evolved into Lit2Go – the COE’s audiobook brand, which is available on iTunes. He said generally all the content has also been posted on USF’s iTunes U website and audiobooks solve some of the literacy problems kids currently face.

“Long ago and far away, when I was young, parents would have time to read to their children,” he said. “And all the research shows the best support you can give a child learning to read is for that child to be read to by an adult who is literate.”

Winkelman said he prefers iTunes U to other digital audio streaming and streaming video providers.

“If you are using some of the other video systems (like YouTube), you have to be physically connected to (the website),” he said. “You can’t download them and make them your own.”