iTunes U & What It Means For You

Here’s a logical follow up to our last post — 10 Free University Courses on iTunes.

It turns out that yesterday Apple nicely integrated iTunes U into iTunes. Now, you’ll probably ask what is iTunes U, and why should I care about this integration? So here is the simple answer:

iTunes U is essentially a non-commercial version of iTunes that several universities started to use over the past year. And, in fact, some of the best university podcast collections (namely, Berkeley’s and Stanford’s) were launched on this platform. The problem was that you couldn’t access these podcasts from the iTunes store that everyone’s accustomed to using. So, if you opened iTunes and searched for Stanford podcasts, you got bubkis.

The distinction between iTunes and iTunes U was largely artificial, and so it made perfect sense to mesh together the two platforms. (Read the press release here.) What doesn’t particularly make sense is the way in which the two platforms now fit together — or actually kind of don’t. If you do a search for “MIT,” for example, you’ll see that some MIT podcasts come up in a search results bucket called “Podcasts” (these are from MIT’s business school) and others come up in a bucket called “iTunes U.” So, put simply, the MIT podcasts aren’t grouped together in one collection. (Try it out and you will see what I mean.)

But why complain, the new integration is no doubt a good step in the right direction.

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  • Mauzy Fledsoe says:

    For the record, Berkeley’s podcasts launched on their local site in late April 2005. Their iTunes U site launched a full year later in April 2006.

    Good catch finding the one spot where the integration didn’t fit. Still pretty elegant considering. Regardless, this is a huge step forward for iTunes U and will bring iTunes U-only schools to a much wider audience at last.

  • […] Since 2007, Apple has offered universities around the world a way to distribute educational media via iTunes U. Fast forward to 2010, Harvard has now set up its own iTunes U section, with more than 200 audio and video tracks covering everything from the Harvard Kuumba Singers to a course on Justice with prominent political philosopher Michael Sandel. Other highlights include: […]

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