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UKZN podcasts lessons

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has introduced podcasting as an educational tool in an effort to improve teaching at the institution.

The R1 million project is funded by the UKZN Research Office and UKZN Generative Enterprises and is a partnership between the university and Apple technologies. It will result in the implementation of a podcast producer solution, developed by the school of Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) and will be based on Apple technologies.

The project forms part of the department's efforts to develop course delivery technologies such as podcasting and virtual classrooms.

“Physical contact is an important aspect of teaching, but we need to make podcasting a normal way to communicate. This technology makes anytime, anywhere learning accessible to our students and will extend the reach of our university internationally,'' says UKZN vice-chancellor, professor Malegapuru Makgoba.

Podcasting is a method of publishing audio and video files through the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. UKZN says this will enable students to have access to lectures, teaching aids, presentations and lecture notes away from the class. The solution will allow these to be recorded and downloaded onto several mobile devices, including cellular phones, iPods and palm and personal computers.

Professor Manoj Maharaj, head of the school of IS&T, who developed the solution for UKZN, says the aim was to place the university on par with leading international institutions at which lectures, tutorials and guest presentations are made available to students in audio or video formats for download onto their MP4 players or mobile handsets. He added that the partnership with Apple will allow the university to take advantage of the company's innovative and advanced products to impact on the way teaching is conducted at the university.

''We cannot engage today's students using methodologies of yesterday. This tool could be used in distance learning to make higher education more accessible to many people,” he said.

The solution is available at UKZN's Westville campus and plans are under way to roll out the project to all campuses, to enable students to have anywhere, anytime access to their lectures.


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