An article in the November 24, 2007 issue of the Los Angeles Times entitled The iPod Lecture Circuit by Michelle Quinn tells the story of how the iPod has created new learning opportunities for people who are not enrolled at colleges and universities.
BERKELEY -- Baxter Wood is one of Hubert Dreyfus' most devoted students. During lectures on existentialism, Wood hangs on every word, savoring the moments when the 78-year-old philosophy professor pauses to consider a student's comment or relay how a meaning-of-life question had him up at 2 a.m.
But Wood is not sitting in a lecture hall on the UC Berkeley campus, nor has he met Dreyfus. He is in the cab of his 18-wheel big rig, hauling dog food from Ohio to the West Coast or flat-screen TVs from Los Angeles to points east.The 61-year-old trucker from El Paso eavesdrops on the lectures by downloading them for free from Apple Inc.'s iTunes store, transferring them to his Hewlett-Packard digital media player, then piping them through his cabin's speakers. He hits pause as he approaches cities so he can focus more on traffic than on what Nietzsche meant when he said God was dead, then shifts his attention back to the classroom.
iTunes University makes lectures available online. There are currently 28 colleges and universities which post lectures on iTunes, lectures which may be downloaded and played by anyone in the world who has a computer and a connection to the internet. Quinn reminds us that 'unofficial students' do not earn degrees for listening. These students learn for the joy of learning.
Some of them have college degrees and some have never had the opportunity to attend an institution of higher learning.
By making hundreds of lectures from elite academic institutions available online for free, Apple is reninvigorating the minds of people who have been estranged from the world of ideas.
Quinn says that 'Retirees in Long Beach and Weaverville, California, halibut fishermen in Alaska, data entry clerks in London, and casting agents in New York' are learning from some of the world's top scholars. Institutions such as Yale, MIT and Stanford are providing lectures to people who may otherwise have never have heard of distinguished professors such as Hubert Dreyfus.
One can access lectures by Dr. Dreyfus by going to the iTunes Store, searching for his name and downloading any or all of his online lectures. iTune lectures may be played on a computer or transferred to an iPod. iTunes is free software and iTunes podcasts are free downloads.
Free and accessible knowledge helps all of us to learn new subjects and to keep up to date on others. Thanks to iTunes University and the institutions which support it Baxter Wood and other students now have access to a continuing and exciting learning process.
Michelle Quinn and the Los Angeles Times deserve top marks for this excellent article.