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iTunes U for iPad Retools the Learning Experience

In the second half of Apple's education-focused media event today, the company turned its attention to iTunes U, the company's free educational podcast section in the iTunes Store. Eddy Cue took the stage to announce that over 1,000 universities are currently using iTunes U, with the program's content having seen over 700 million downloads to date.


The new iTunes U app advances iTunes U from audio and video lectures to a full-fledged learning app, allowing non-traditional students access to huge amounts of free content but more importantly for Apple, allowing schools to adopt iTunes U as a learning platform.
The all-new iTunes U app lets teachers create and manage courses including essential components such as lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and syllabuses and offer them to millions of iOS users around the world.
Courses are created via the iTunes U Course Manager, a web-based tool that allows teachers to build a course that includes a syllabus, handouts, quizzes, and other items. Course materials are hosted by Apple and available to anyone taking the course -- by default, courses are open and available to anyone, though it appears schools can restrict their courses to only their students.

For users, iTunes U for iOS has more than 100 courses already optimized for iOS, with more on the way. A quick perusal of the app shows classes from Yale, Duke, MIT, and Stanford -- including Paul Hegarty's well-regarded iPad and iPhone App Development course [Direct Link].

iTunes U lets you take a complete course on your iPad. View the course overview, instructor biography, and course outline. Read posts and keep track of your completed assignments. Watch videos directly within the app, read books, and view all your course notes in one place. Receive push notifications alerting you to new posts from the instructor. And iCloud keeps your notes, highlights, and bookmarks up to date on all your devices.
iTunes U is a free download for iPad and iPhone on the App Store [Direct Link].

Top Rated Comments

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34 months ago

At it's current form, this will not be a big impact to the education industry compared to iBooks 2.
I can only see this working for small and free courses, mainly in wealthy private schools.


Huh? It's giving free courses from places like Stanford, and those courses are hardly "small." Many people can't afford $120k to go to college, and this helps everyone access information. If that's not an impact then I don't know what is.
Rating: 8 Votes
34 months ago

Haven't had a chance to look - is Khan Academy participating in this?

Why would they?
They have a very successful platform already.
It is device and OS independent. Converting it to this platform would be going backwards.
Rating: 4 Votes
34 months ago

At it's current form, this will not be a big impact to the education industry compared to iBooks 2.
I can only see this working for small and free courses, mainly in wealthy private schools.


Have you ever participated in post-secondary education? Taken quizzes, tried to organize 15 credits worth of courses notes in a tablet notebook or annoyiyng tack folders? Forgot your one piece of notes, or had them unorganized? Well, if this was around when i was in college, I can bet I'd have been a better student. Maybe its just me?
And in wealthy private schools? It would benefit large public schools, such as Penn State where i attended, and they needed 2-3 teacher's assistance just to pass out the notes, quizzes, study guides etc to the 300-400 kids in a single class.
Rating: 2 Votes
34 months ago

While a neat idea, schools don't have the funds to be buying students ipads, parents aren't going to shell out 500 a pop for their sons and daughters.

Lastly the device has so many other programs and games that can serve as distractions.

Under a stricter and cheaper ipad this can take off and change the industry, the current model wont put a dent in it. Though it would open extra ways to learning for those who can afford it.


As a parent, I couldn't disagree with you more...in a world where parents routinely shell out $200-$300 on game systems for their kids with zero educational value, not to mention, $400 bats and $100 athletic shoes, ipads are not that hard of a sell...especially if its viewed as an investment in their kid's future...

There are millions upon millions of parents who spend billions upon billions on their kids every year...there is plenty of room for an ipad or two in those billions...

Life is full of distractions...beside, many of those "distractions" you're referring to can be disabled or limited on an ipad....I know, I know that would require parental involvement...but that's another topic altogether...
Rating: 2 Votes
34 months ago
I can see a definite plus for IPADS to be used in a college setting, but what about K12? I am a public high school teacher and have questions regarding cost, security, and viability about their use in the classroom. Sure, private schools can do what they want as the parents are paying to send their child to that school, but what about the public schools? Where is the money? California, my state, is broke, and we are about to take another hit across the board. Who is trained for this technology? No one where I work at. It is all good theory, but until Apple starts to drop the price on their electronics I just don't see it occuring. By the way, have you seen the way teenagers treat traditional textbooks. How long would an IPAD last? Theft, replacement costs. Who is going to pay for that? Taxpayers? What about those parents who cannot afford replacement costs for IPADS, legal and illegal? I have parents who don't speak English, have a 4th grade education and their priority is work. I don't think so. Or, the technology is given to a teacher who is adverse to technology and it ends up locked away in a closet until it is outdated. I've seen it happen. So, great in theory but a long way off. That is the reality.
Rating: 1 Votes
34 months ago

Khan Academy doesn't require the student/teacher to purchase any proprietary hardware to use it.
That fact alone is what makes it desirable.
It also has great content and a user experience that kids enjoy.
My daughter uses Khan Academy every day.
She can access it on ANY computer.


You don't need an iPad to access iTunes U. Any computer with iTunes can get it.
Rating: 1 Votes
34 months ago
Make no mistake, I love my iPad but: The thing that I felt was its biggest shortcoming from day one will prevent its triumph in the classroom: the lack of proper handwriting input.
We need a stylus with a proper fine tip (and good handwriting recognition wouldn't hurt) to take notes in real time during a class - and the ability to write/draw freeform notes into any iBook.
I know what Steve thought about styluses - well he was wrong about that one.
Rating: 1 Votes
34 months ago

It's nothing like Blackboard.

It's like Blackboard wanna-be, but nothing that robust. It's very simple, too simple for major College and University courses.

Clearly Apple wants to keep this to iPad only, and we'll see how well that does. But everyone knows that a MacBook Pro is a near standard for education. The question is, are they willing to spend $500 more on an iPad as well? Apple definitely needs to OWN the tablet industry for this thing to be taken seriously.




Right but these aren't actual courses for credits in University, that will give someone a degree. Don't get me wrong, free education is amazing, and it's a great impact, but it won't replace the current Learning Systems in colleges and universities.
But it's like a better Khan Academy basically.



Yes, i recently graduated from a top Business school, so I do know what i'm talking about.
I've had those same issues, but this app is not the answer to that.
Currently, an iPad cannot replace a MacBook Pro as the essential tool in education.

All in all, this is a competitor for Khan Academy and other Open-source learning environments, not Blackboard.

Apple presumes everyone is gonna have an iPad, when let's face it.. majority of the people still like the old-school textbook. So this is gonna take a very long time, if ever, to take over the market.


Well ... I am a graduate of a top Business School and 2 top Engineering schools. I have used Blackboard and several other tools. 1 Blackboard was not quite hardware / software agnostic. Very broken unless you were running IE (at least 4 yrs ago).

At the end of the day you will need to buy some piece of hardware to get either Blackboard or iTunes U working. Apple is giving you an education experience, not a piece-mealed set of "things". I was a teaching assistant in undergrad and this experience Apple is setting up makes the process A LOT simpler to manage. For K-12, my partner is a teacher and his jaw dropped watching the video last night. You can write grants to get iPads in the classroom. In some schools there are stipends provided to have "computers" for students in classrooms (Title 1 Schools). Private schools of course can include it in tuition.

Someone already said it and I think they are correct. Apple will aggressively price the iPad 2 just like they did the iPhone 4 and create a 2nd tier of product without sacrificing the experience.

I'm confused as to why everyone is complaining about an iPad in every classroom. Microsoft wanted a PC in every classroom (and just about got it). Apple is just doing it better.
Rating: 1 Votes
34 months ago

I use my original iPad 1 (bought on launch day of 3G) every day for about 10 hours a day.


I hope Chazwatson doesn't read this. He might go off on another one of his looking down isn't ergonomic spiels.
Rating: 1 Votes
34 months ago

This isn't really much of a competitor to Blackboard as it may first appear by some. Several things that I can think of that may be lacking.

Grades: this seems like a way for the teacher to communicate one direction with the class. Posting things for the student to see. Sure the student has some options on his/her end, but not the same way. The University I'm at is thankfully changing away from Blackboard to Instructure (Canvas). This is a huge upgrade over the terrible blackboard. I was hoping Apple would do more of a complete overhaul, use iCloud to access in addition to an iPhone/iPad/Mac app. This is a plus, but I don't see this being implemented as much.


Do you go to school in Utah?
I wonder how well Canvas will do. It's open source, so thats a major issue for some schools regarding that. Most schools are skeptical of "free" software, especially something like this.

If it isn't an issue for you, can you please PM me your pros and cons of Canvas when/if you use it?


You said "Khan Academy doesn't require the student/teacher to purchase any proprietary hardware to use it."

Neither does iTunes U.


I believe he was referring to the new iTunes U app for iPad when he said that.

Anyway, this is clearly a competitor to Khan Academy and Code Academy and other up and coming free learning sites.
Unfortunately, it will probably take years for textbooks to come onto the iPad exclusively.. if ever.

Apple revolutionizing the Music Industry with iTunes was only possible because iTunes was on every computer, Windows or Mac. Clearly that's not the case with iBooks 2 on the iPad, as Apple wants to be the only tablet seller (which i doubt will be possible).


Yeah, nobody has an iPad. They're especially unpopular amount students and academics. Nobody has this hardware already, so iTunes U is dead.

Oh, and the content totally sucks. Why didn't Apple announce a boatload of content deals at breakthrough prices?

Happy opposite day!


Clearly you're having trouble understanding.
Rating: 1 Votes

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