April 14, 2009

Tate joins iTunes U

Interesting to see the Tate and Palace of Versaille listed on iTunes U today.

Some great content there as well, plus it raises some interesting debate about academic content.

iTunes U has long had the Beyond Campus section – an area for institutions that have an educational remit but are not universities.

I find this interesting for several reasons.

1. Many of these institutions have a better track record at public engagement than the HE sector and so much of this sort of thing should be easier for them.

2. The Tate gets a lot of support for its digital work from private sponsors – Bloomberg, BT to name two. What happens if a University of Warwick Economics series is sponsored by Barclays International Capital. Does that devalue the content? iTunes U is an expressly non-commercial environment, but sponsorship seems to be ok. We’ve shied away from this is the past but maybe we need to embrace it.

What is also interesting is the degree to which this blurs the distinction of what is an educational provider. Much of the Tate content would not look out of place alongside a Fine Arts History course, the only real difference is that they cannot issue a degree.


BTW – I don’t have a problem with the Tate in iTunes U – fantastic stuff in my mind and a great call to action from the HE sector which has rather had this intellectual space to itself for quite a while.

It is interesting to muse though on the impact of the Tate, Science Museum, Natural History Museum, competing for eyeballs and ears in this space. Universities could end up sidelined by slicker, more focussed content providers.

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