iTunes U has gained academic credibility since its inception two years ago. The site’s reputation has been bolstered by research that shows students perform better in the classroom when they have the ability to rewind lecture videos and podcasts, rather than furiously jot down notes and miss key points during an in-person lecture.

A study released last March showed that students who watched a lecture podcast–available from the iTunes U online video library–scored an average of 71 percent on a post-lecture quiz. Students who sat through the 30-minute classroom lecture in person scored an average of 62 percent, according to the study.

The study, “iTunes University and the Classroom: Can Podcasts Replace Professors?,” was conducted at the State University of New York Fredonia. It called for some introductory psychology students to watch a recorded lecture available online and others to attend a traditional classroom lecture.

Dani McKinney, the study’s lead researcher, said test scores were most dramatically affected by note taking. Students who watched the video lecture and took notes, McKinney said, scored an average of 15 points higher than their peers in the lecture hall.

Most Fredonia students did not “take advantage of the mobility of the podcast,” according to the research. Only about 20 percent of students said they watched the podcast lecture on a mobile device, while 80 percent watched the iTunes download on their laptops. Five percent of participants had listened to a podcast before, and no one had ever listened to a lecture podcast, according to the study.

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