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Mythology podcasts are 'hot' at NMSU

New Mexico State University's mythology courses have become the most downloaded NMSU podcasts at iTunes U, and the lectures for English 392V were recently listed in the "What's Hot" section of the iTunes store and spent the next week featured at iTunes U.

New Mexico State University's 33 mythology courses have become the most downloaded NMSU podcasts at iTunes U. They were recently listed in the "What's Hot" section of the iTunes store and spent another week featured at iTunes U. (Submitted photo)

"I discuss Joseph Campbell's mono myth of the 'Hero's Journey,' and relate it to the movies and literature of today," said Gail Lavender, a professor in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at NMSU. "The lectures also cover the theory of mythology as well as the Trojan War, the Odyssey and the Oresteia."

Additionally, the course has made TechZoom.org's list for the "Top 25 iTunes U Collections for iPhone, iPod and iPad."

"After reviewing her podcasts, I recommended she move them to the public side of iTunes U to make them easier for her students to access and make them available for an international and broader audience," said Melissa Chavira, the iTunes U administrator for NMSU. "Apple then contacted me shortly after we put them up about featuring her courses."

Lavender teaches two sections of mythology to 124 students each year. She said the 33 podcasts, which cover mythical gods and goddesses as well as the Greek heroes and heroines, were created in a traditional classroom.

"One lecture 'Cupid & Psyche' is by Dr. Mark Whitehead, a clinical psychologist," Lavender said. "He discusses how psychologists use mythology, and, in this lecture, talks about how not to fall in love."

Sipai Klein, an NMSU alumnus who received his doctorate in rhetoric and professional communication in 2011, produced the podcasts. He edited the live audio, remastered the live lectures and created the music composition. He also provided hardware and software consultation as well as uploaded and updated the RSS feeds.

As a new approach to teaching, Lavender made the podcasts after attending the Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, a summer institute that trains faculty to adopt technology into their curriculum. In spring 2010, she consulted Klein, who was then a member of the ITAL team, and recorded the lectures in two of her mythology classes. The courses became available in the fall.

"Online teaching struck me as an opportunity to create a course that gave more than a face-to-face class," Lavender said. "I firmly believe my mythology students are even more actively participating in their education. My hope is that the mythology iTunes U lectures keeps them connected to the vitality of myth."

To download the free podcasts visit http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/mythology/id497995501. For more information contact Lavender at 575-646-2247 or glavende@nmsu.edu.