With the launch of Bowdoin's iTunes U, students can unearth episodes of the now defunct Bowdoin Cable Network (BCN) soap opera "Coles Tower," see episodes of Hari Kondabolu's '04 variety show, and watch live feeds of the football games.

Back when media was stored on the school's web site, many of these Bowdoin treasures were unavailable to students because of limited server space. Now, through iTunes U, Apple stores such media in the iTunes Music Store.

"We're not limited by storage, so students have the opportunity for new use of video and audio," said Information Technology's (IT) Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis.

The success of Bowdoin podcasts motivated IT to launch iTunes U, a section of the iTunes Music Store devoted to Bowdoin's academic, athletic, and campus organizations. The program, scheduled to be launched today, is accessible through the student gateway. iTunes U will fully launch with authentication after winter break.

"iTunes is a familiar interface for current students, and it's a centralized repository for media," said Mark Leaman, the current webmaster and former new media producer for IT. "This mixes the cultural and the public with the academic aspect."

Leaman emphasized that the only requirement to run iTunes U is to have iTunes installed on a computer. An iPod is not necessary, and the files are in mp3 format so they can be played on a variety of devices.

Also, since the server space is managed by Apple's California base, it takes up no extra space on the Bowdoin server.

"There's unlimited server space to upload and store files, it's on the other coast," Leaman said.

Apple approached Bowdoin to consider iTunes U, and after applying, Bowdoin, Bates College, and colleges within the University of Maine system became the only institutions in Maine with the program. Other schools with iTunes U are Stanford (the pilot university), University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

All the content on the iTunes U page must be created by Bowdoin or fall within the realm of public domain in accordance with the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act. Under the TEACH Act, a professor may show or perform any work related to the curriculum, regardless of medium, as long as it is a face-to-face encounter in the classroom. In order to put the media on the web, the professor must pare down the work into clips or not post it at all due to copyright laws and fair use terms.

Thus, Bowdoin's iTunes U content follows the rules of the Act. Content may include albums produced by the music department, faculty and student concerts, songs that an a cappella group may choose to share, sporting events, and certain lectures.

Leaman stated that IT will allow faculty decide in what capacity they will use iTunes U for their courses.

"We're hoping that releasing it to the public will breed awareness," he said.

At Berkeley, many courses are available to download on iTunes U, but Berkley's size and distance learning programs make it a much different school than Bowdoin. While iTunes U is similar to the Blackboard program, it is a much more familiar and accessible program to students.

As for public access and authentication, Bowdoin's iTunes U is only available through the Bowdoin website and cannot be found in the iTunes Music Store. The athletic section is open to the public. Other areas, like course information, require a Bowdoin login. There are spaces for faculty to upload audio and video files on the course pages, and students have a section to add their own projects.

All student organizations fall under the umbrella of campus life and can have their own section on iTunes U. Leaman said that clubs may contact him or Davis about setting up a container for the content, and then members of the organization are free to upload their own content.

As Apple evolves the capabilities of iTunes U, Bowdoin's IT Department is also looking toward the school's future on the web. Leaman and Davis are applying to establish a YouTube page for Bowdoin. On the page, only members of the Bowdoin community would be able to see the video clips posted there.

YouTube uses a democratic system to determine whether or not a school receives the page. Students, faculty and staff with a Bowdoin email go to the YouTube site and enter their request for the page. Leaman and Davis encourage everyone to visit the site and request that Bowdoin receive its own page.

Currently, there is a video of IT's own technical purchasing manager, Sarah Morgan, skydiving to raise money for AIDS. Combining the technological advancements and the creativity of the Bowdoin community promises plenty more quality viewing opportunities.