Computing Tips: College lectures online … for free

BERKELEY, CA. “Retirees in Long Beach and Weaverville, Calif., halibut fishermen in Alaska, data entry clerks in London, casting agents in New York—all separated from the classroom by age, distance or circumstance—are learning from some of the world’s top scholars.”. They’re learning by downloading podcasts from iTune University, where “28 colleges and universities, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Yale, now post select courses without charge at iTunes.”

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 online, 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.

Read more …

The iPod lecture circuit,” Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov 07.

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