Digital Campuses

Adios to language lab?: students in a Spanish class

Adios to language lab?: students in a Spanish class. Jim Wallace

Duke is not the only school taking the digital plunge. Four major universities--Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oxford--along with The New York Public Library, announced last year that they were teaming up with Google to digitize all or some of their library collections to make the contents of their books searchable on the Internet.

A handful of other schools, including Drexel University and Georgia College & State University, have also opted for the iPod, though not on the scale of Duke's program. Apple itself has developed a Digital Campus Exchange, a forum for university leaders and professors to explore and discuss new technologies and academic applications. A quick survey of those involved offers a snapshot of the types of projects being implemented:

Like Duke, Stanford is wading into digital audio, only from the other direction. First, they are collecting audio materials and setting up a distribution infrastructure (possibly using a special iTunes site, as Duke does), and then they will consider issuing iPods for select courses.

The University of Missouri School of Journalism told its faculty, "Here's a computer, see what you can do," when they all received Apple PowerBooks with iLife digital audio and video production software last year, says Jen Reeves, one of the professors coordinating the project. The idea, she says, is to experiment "delivering traditional media in nontraditional ways."

The Ohio State University is trying out the "e-portfolio," a sort of "multimedia rÈsumÈ" each student would build, says Susan Metros, the school's executive director for educational technology and distributed learning.

But it's not as if everyone is just jumping in with their eyes closed. Cole Camplese, the director of the University of Pennsylvania's IST Solutions Institute, is pushing digital media skills at his school. Before blanketing the campus with Apple's iLife software for digital audio and video editing, he says he is acting on a lesson learned from previous technology initiatives and beginning this one with a survey of faculty attitudes toward the technology. "The only way faculty are comfortable with it is if this is a legitimate way to communicate ideas."

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