The University of Michigan plans to distribute podcasts of lectures by autumn.

The university will encourage professorial podcasting by making it simpler to upload lectures and easier for students to download them. Plans include a dedicated page on iTunes, as well as making lecture-casts available for other music players.

The scheme was first tested at the University's School of Dentistry, which surveyed the student body and found that 60 per cent of learners favoured audio podcasts, over alternatives such as PowerPoint.

Apple then donated hardware for Dental School lecture halls to give the students the technology needed to upload the lectures.

Dental students have been able to access unique content through the iTunes U scheme since last autumn. 300 dentistry lectures are available there.

Answering critics who say that making lectures available as podcasts can encourage student absenteeism, Lynn Johnson, director of dental informatics at the School of Dentistry said: "What I would like to see is less and less live dissemination and the class time used for more interactive work."