Better than a Happy Meal toy

By Rebecca Pfliger

Spring courses have begun, but 30 students are being encouraged not to attend class.

The University of Calgary is offering communication studies 201

via podcast this coming semester, renaming it iCOMS 201.

This is a trial run that the university hopes to expand. Podcasting is a technology that allows individuals to download video or audio files onto their computers or MP3 players.

If iCOMS 201 is successful the university may expand podcasting to all faculties.

“We’re hoping it improves both the learning and teaching experience,” said David Johnston of the Registrars Office.

iCOMS 201 will offer a weekly face to face tutorial along with the podcast feature.

For this trial course, students have been offered a free iPod if they participate in the extra studies being used to determine the success of the course. Johnston expects all of the students registered in the course to take advantage of the incentive.

Johnston said the university is purchasing the iPods and it is a one-time offer, but he would not elaborate as to where the money came from.

Different aspects of the course will be evaluated closely, including whether or not the portability is benefitial.

Students’ Union vice-president academic Shannon O’Connor isn’t convinced the iPod classes will benefit all students.

“Professors can decide how [the podcasts] are implemented, whether they’re in addition to their lectures, or replacing them,” said O’Connor. “My concern is if they are used as a replacement to lectures.”

O’Connor also noted the university is trying to expand learning opportunities for students.

“The university is trying to be really innovative by making information as accessible as possible to students,” she said. “The university has good intentions.”

Along with podcasting lectures, faculty can now record lectures, or portions of them and post them on blackboard as study aides.

Johnston stressed that podcasting won’t be useful for all courses, but thinks it could be helpful for many.

If all goes well with iCOMS 201, three other “iCourses” will be added to the calendar, including iENGL 231, iCHEM 351 and iSOCI 201.

Leave a comment