Apple confirms 1bn downloads from iTunes U

28 Feb 2013

Apple has revealed that iTunes U content downloads have topped 1bn. The platform boasts the world’s largest online catalogue of free educational content from libaries, museums and educational establishments.

The platform can be used by educators to create courses, lectures and assignments for students who carry iOS devices, like iPhones or iPads.

More than 1,200 universities and colleges, and 1,200 primary and secondary schools and districts host more than 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 60m content downloads.

The Ohio State University’s Matthew ‘Dr Fus’ Stoltzfus’ General Chemistry course enrolled more than 100,000 iTunes U students in the first year it was offered.

Phenomenal shift towards digital learning

“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. “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 60pc 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 global reach of iTunes U gives educators, like University of California, Irvine Prof 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 programmes with students in Europe; and exchange information about the influence of neighbourhood design on community levels of physical activity and obesity with students in Australia,” said Stokols, whose Environmental Psychology course enrols more than 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.”

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, more than 75,000 educational apps are now available for iOS devices on the App Store.

In addition, 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.

“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 road map to take students beyond what a typical lesson or lecture could achieve,” Boydstun said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years