After testing an educational podcasting pilot program this summer, Santa Monica College (SMC) is launching “SMC on iTunes U” to make a wide range of podcasts available to students and the public.

SMC on iTunes U (www.i features course content, audio podcasts of various guest speakers at the college, public SMC board of trustees meetings and a documentary video about SMC’s pilot podcasting program.

All material is available free to the public, and anyone can download content to their Macs or PCs and, if they choose, transfer that content to iPods and MP3 players.

The college will continue to upload material onto SMC on iTunes U, making content available with new educational material and students’ work.

Santa Monica College is among a growing number of colleges and universities turning to podcasting as an educational tool, including UCLA and Stanford and Duke Universities, a college spokesman notes.

SMC on iTunes U comes on the heels of an educational podcasting pilot program SMC held this summer that targeted a group of about 25 incoming freshmen.

The college lent Apple iPods — funded by a federal grant — to the students, who were able to download video, audio, photos, graphics and text for homework assignments, according to a college spokesman.

The content, ranging from television and movie clips to videotaped campus tours, was available only to the students and faculty for downloads to their iPods.

The students — a group of low-income freshmen in remedial English and college orientation courses — and teachers in the program gave the podcasting high marks.

“It was cool to be able to use iPods,” said one student. “I’d never used an iPod before in my life.”

“I think it was a great project,” said counselor Jackie Seiden, who taught the college orientation class. “I really saw students’ quality of work improve.”

English professor Mira Pak also praised the use of the iPods.

“Using the podcasts that were relevant to the topic assisted students to be able to understand the purpose and conceptual nature of the argumentative essay without getting bogged down in the readings,” Pak said.