February 24, 2006

Pod University

A new podcast service at Stanford allows students to access lectures by downloading files from iTunes. While the system may prompt justified concerns about class attendance and intellectual property, these issues are easily surmountable. Podcasting U of C lectures only stands to increase access to our professors’ cutting-edge ideas and world-class lectures.

The implementation of such a system would allow professors to connect to a wider audience. There is a fear that professors would be less candid if they knew their courses were being recorded, curbing the off-the-cuff remarks that are an invaluable addition to students’ classroom experience. In response to this, the system should only be applied to specific lectures among willing professors.

Podcasts can also lend a personal dimension to class selection. Students could rely on their own ears on top of evaluations. But the benefits would extend throughout the year as well. The U of C is home to some masterful lecturers. Students in different disciplines could have the opportunity to listen to living legends without committing to a quarter-long course. Given the overwhelming campus demand for many guest lecturers, a “Lecture of the Week” segment could easily promote campus discussion.

Campus is not the only area that stands to benefit. Podcasting could give the University a chance for nationwide exposure. It could provide a valuable tool to woo prospective students. Also, alumni and parents could see that their tuition payments and donations are being well spent.

While class attendance is crucial for many classes, podcasts could be the ultimate study aid for a lecture courses. If released before midterms and finals, they could help students brush up on the material while still encouraging attendance for the average, studious U of C student.

With new technology expected in the next 5 to 10 years, now is the time to be on the forefront of the inevitable podcasting bandwagon. As long as we’re careful with the way this is implemented, a podcasting service could be a valuable addition to the University’s climate of constant academic inquiry.