Apple’s iTunes U content passes one billion downloads milestone

Apple today announced that iTunes U content downloads have topped one billion. iTunes U features the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content from top schools and prominent libraries, museums and organizations helping educators create courses including lectures, assignments, books, quizzes and more for iOS users around the world.

“It’s inspiring to see what educators and students of all types are doing with iTunes U,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, in the press release. “With the incredible content offered on iTunes U, students can learn like never before―there are now iTunes U courses with more than 250,000 students enrolled in them, which is a phenomenal shift in the way we teach and learn.”

More than 1,200 universities and colleges, and 1,200 K-12 schools and districts host over 2,500 public and thousands of private courses encompassing the arts, sciences, health and medicine, education, business and more. Leading universities including Duke, Yale, Cambridge, MIT and Oxford continue to extend their reach by enrolling more than 100,000 students in single iTunes U courses, with Stanford University and The Open University each surpassing 60 million content downloads. The Ohio State University’s Matthew “Dr. Fus” Stoltzfus’ General Chemistry course enrolled over 100,000 iTunes U students in the first year it was offered.

“The interest my iTunes U course receives from non-college students is overwhelming,” said Professor Stoltzfus, in a statement. “I’ve been working with high school teachers who use my iTunes U material to prepare to teach their own classes, high school students all over the world who are leveraging the course to tutor their fellow classmates, even retirees who download my iTunes U course to stay intellectually active.”

Over 60 percent of iTunes U app downloads originate from outside the US, giving schools of any size the ability to share their content with a worldwide audience. The unmatched global reach of iTunes U gives educators, like University of California, Irvine Professor Dan Stokols, international recognition and acclaim in their fields.

“Because of iTunes U, I have been able to introduce students and colleagues in China to research on the links between chronic multi-tasking, information overload and stress; discuss research publications and degree programs with students in Europe; and exchange information about the influence of neighborhood design on community levels of physical activity and obesity with students in Australia,” said Professor Stokols, whose Environmental Psychology course enrolls over 170,000 students on iTunes U. “The opportunity to impact so many students who are gaining interest in environmental psychology by taking my free course on iTunes U has been highly rewarding and gratifying for me as an educator and learner.”

“I see success unfolding before me on a daily basis,” says Chrissy Boydstun, a teacher from Mansfield Independent School District in Texas which provides each of their over 10,000 high school students and faculty with an iPad. “Students are engaged and working hard as they use the incredible amount of information at their fingertips in a way that is meaningful and impactful. I love the way iTunes U provides a roadmap to take students beyond what a typical lesson or lecture could achieve.”

Educators can create iTunes U courses in 30 countries including recent additions: Brazil, South Korea, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. These courses, and other education content, can be accessed via the iTunes U app in 155 countries. In addition to thousands of individual iTunes U learning materials, over 75,000 educational apps are now available for iOS devices on the App Store. Additionally, with the free iBooks Author app on the Mac® App Store, writers and publishers continue to bring ideas and stories to life sharing more than 10,000 original Multi-Touch™ books with the world.

Source: Apple Inc.


    1. Please clarify, breeze. iTunes U is a free resource, so I do not understand your comment regarding revenue streams.

      Apple could tie advertising to iTunes U, but I do not favor that approach. Apple could also leverage the iTunes U platform to deliver commercial content, as described by Captain Obvious, below. If so, the iTunes U content should be kept independent and clean of commercial involvement to the extent possible.

  1. iTunes U could be a glimpse into the future of a new Apple TV interface.

    When Jeff Robbin, who designed iTunes, and is now heading up the Apple TV group, demoed iTunes U last year, it sure looked like a content delivery system that could be used for any medium, including television.

    See the iTunes U demo here and see what you think:

  2. People have tagged the Google Books effort as world-changing, and it is. I wholeheartedly support the facilitation of legal, worldwide, electronic access to books. But iTunes U is at least equally as world-changing and, arguably, even more so. Yet, it has received relatively little attention by the media and the public since its inception. Millions of people can now self-educate themselves in a variety of advanced subjects, even if they cannot afford a college education. And I am very excited about the potential for this content to enrich K-12 education and enable students to go beyond the information provided in the classroom.

  3. With Coursera, EdX, Udacity and others entering the online education game Apple needs to stay on the ball. Universities are looking at ways to charge $ for ACCREDITED online material that can be applied to degrees and certificates that have real value in the job market.

    Why is there no iTunes U app or Books app for the Macintosh?

    Why is discovery so poor on iTunes U?

    It is not like Apple is cash poor or that there is a shortage of qualified people. The employment market is a buyer’s market and Apple is sitting on a ton of cash.

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