iTunes U and ID3 Tags

We are getting closer and closer with our iTunes U implementation here at PSU.  We are a little late with it all, but will have a nice sized pilot for the Fall semester.  As we discovered last Spring, faculty are very interested in being able to protect their podcasts so only their students can see/hear them.  I wonder how much of this is thinking based on the years of LMS/CMS utilization?  At any rate, iTunes U gives us the option of making content open to the world, closed to a specific class, and a few other options in between.  It should make for an interesting pilot.

One thing we are doing as we get ready to open the doors is collect existing content from all sorts of sounrces all over campus.  We are talking to both Colleges and Administrative Units to make sure our iTunes U space doesn’t open as an empty shell.  It is actually a very good process as it requires us to go out and touch all corners of the University in an effort to get the best digital media out there.  Pulling in content has posed an interesting challenge however …

What we are discovering is that iTunes U uses the ID3 meta data for naming once you have completed uploading a file.  This makes it a pain as very few people actually attach meta data to the file before they hand them to us.  So once they hit the iTunes U space they have ugly file names and we can’t alter meta data once it is in there.  This has created an extra step in the process that is annoying to say the least — it requires us t obounce out of iTunes U, then import the files into iTunes itself to first add meta data, then locating the edited version, then renaming it, then returning to iTunes U, then going through the iTunes U form based upload process … it isn’t fun.

So, the big question I have is what is the best way to edit these tags without using iTunes?  Are there tools people are using to do this?

iTunes U List

Back to Blogging at a Big University

Even as I am neck deep in a podcasting and iTunes U implementation here at PSU, I am gearing up for the next BIG project for us. That project is figuring out how to create a platform can support all sorts of web-based content production — I had written a post about when is a blog not a blog that seemed to get quite a few people thinking and talking here at my campus and beyond. The big thing that we have started to really explore and explain is that the tools that support this whole blogging thing really have the power to support a lot of what is going on on our campuses. Let’s see, ePortfolios? Yep. Blogs? Obviously. Personal note taking? Sure. What else? Well, anything that relies on faculty, staff, or students creating and publishing content.

Just yesterday I was lucky enough to be in a meeting with an amazingly open-minded faculty member who was asking for a blog platform to support his writing course. No problem … but, the big thing here is that we were joined by the people who actually support enterprise applications on my campus — you know the smart guys who think in terms of 100 thousands users and routinely deliver. They were there and it made me think bigger about what we can do to offer a single solution to a single faculty member with a tiny class (25 students) that would teach us about how we could scale to say 5,000 faculty and 80,000 students.

If you look back at some of the requirements we were looking at a few months ago the last time the blog team got together, not much has changed. It still needs to stand up to the pounding that an application like this will get on a big campus — but now we are thinking a whole lot about building a platform that enables all the things we need. We are going to try and build some sort of personal content management solution that can support blogging, portfolios, personal web pages, resumes, syllabi, you name it. Call it what you will, but in my mind we are attacking a paradigm shift here — I am looking to tear down the WYSIWYG tool du-jour domination on our campus. What we want is a space that empowers people to think about content, information architecture, self expression, and self-reflextion instead of how do I do that with DreamWeaver, then SFTP it, and then … see what I am saying? It is time to move to the next level.

What I am planning to do is task several smaller, more focused groups to look at the needs behind ePortfolios, behind personal note taking spaces, behind personal website tools, and so on. We’ll then roll those requirements up to the larger PCM Platform team and start constructing a solution. We have a starting platform in mind that I think can really get us close “out of the box,” but we’ll see.

As we started to talk, it became clear that we can create a handful of custom apps that will glue our solutions together to create all sorts of novel solutions. If students are publishing into their personal webspaces, then we’ll have to find innovative ways of pulling content into other locations. Here’s an example … if a class is blogging, but they are doing it into their personal spaces, the faculty member will want to aggregate every student’s post into a single class blog that she can control and manipulate as if it were a multi-user blogging environment itself. That is where we build.

I know this is a rambling mess, but my thoughts are still coming together. As they develop, I will share more. Any thoughts for me so far?

The Hot Team … LionShare Style

When I came down from the IST Solutions Institute late last year I was interested in creating opportunities to explore technology as it relates to teaching and learning that could be connected with tangible outcomes. One thing I have been working towards is a systematic process that charges a small group with looking at a specific technology to help inform our internal teams as they work with members of our audiences to apply new solutions in and out of our classrooms. The notion of the Hot Team was one that came out of some thinking spurred by the Art of Innovation book put together by the folks at Ideo. The Hot Team concept is actually quite simple — ask people to explore/play/investigate something specific and write up the findings as a white paper.

A while back we did a Hot Team that looked at Pachyderm as an authoring environment, but have had a little trouble getting another one going. Two weeks ago we decided to put a team together to investigate LionShare. LionShare is an open source peer-to-peer tool developed here within Teaching and Learning with Technology at Penn State under the leadership of Mike Halm. It is a very interesting piece of technology that does so much more than help you securely exchange files. This is P2P in a whole new light. Mike and his team are close to releasing LionShare widely here on campus and we wanted to understand it better to help drive adoption for teaching, learning, and research purposes. The Hot Team will be finished up by June 15th and we’ll be sure to share the findings. How do you encourage/support/promote the notion of investigating and reporting on new uses of technology for teaching and learning purposes?

Penn State TLT Symposium

The Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium kicks off in the morning.  I just had dinner with Henry Jenkins, our keynote speaker, and if he tells the same types of stories tomorrow, it’ll be amazing.  Smart guy.

Do me favor, join us tomorrow via the event blog.  We are doing live blogging and podcasting all day long — from every session.  It is the first event at PSU to take advantage of these types of spaces, so it will be interesting to see how it all goes down.  Either way, stop by.

Podcasting with the Blue Ball Mic

Here I am trying another microphone in my office on a really snowy cold day here in State College. This podcast isn’t much more than a quick status update on some of the things we are doing here in my new place … looking at what it would mean to really jump into the podcasting and blogging space here. We met today as a group to really just bring our thoughts and some issues to light. I thought I’d recapture some of the thinking we dropped on each other and just ramble a bit. The podcast is about 12 minutes long and weighs in at 12 MB. Might be worth downloading … I will say the levels are a little low on this and I think the Samson microphone is a better deal, but that’s Just my two cents.

Learning and Innovation Podcast for 12.15.2005–>

Online IST Flashback

I have been spending some time assembling briefing materials for people in my new group. So many of the things we spent years trying to figure out at IST are of real value as the larger University begins to move itself more aggressively into the areas of blended and hybrid learning spaces. As I have been putting stuff together, I’ve been going back through old documents, presentations, and notes so that I can share the things we did successfully in the Solutions Institute with my new team. In doing so I came across a nice white paper my wife and I wrote a few years ago that sort of outlines our approaches … nothing great, but still a nice historical reflection of things done. I just thought I’d share. And BTW, Happy Thanksgiving!