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  • App of the Week: iTunes U

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    Posted on January 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    App of the Week: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/

    It’s not often that a company tries to revolutionize an industry outside itself. But Apple is doing just that. The company is attempting to revolutionize the education industry by providing inexpensive, interactive and engaging alternatives to university textbooks. Lost in the shuffle of the Digital Textbook announcement was a new iPhone and iPad app made by Apple called iTunes U, which now has its own section in Apple stores. What started out as a collection of free video and audio lectures from leading universities has lately become home to entire courses. ITunes U gives users a glimpse inside prestigious centers of higher education such as Duke, Stanford, Yale and MIT by providing virtual lecture halls, campuses and lecture materials.

    The new iTunes U app for iPhone and iPad looks much like iBooks or Newsstand, with a typical bookshelf layout. The difference is in the material it contains. Once users subscribe to a class they are given an immediate overview, a bio of the instructor and a course outline. Updates from the instructor upload automatically, which keeps the material fresh and relevant.

    The Posts section of this app is where Apple has really revamped iTunes U. This is no longer just a taped lecture but an entire college course at your fingertips. Posts with information about the assignment and assigned materials upload in date order. These materials can consist of audio, video, PDF or Word documents, PowerPoint or keynote presentations, links to other apps, iBooks or even new digital textbooks.

    iTunes U really comes alive in the unique, comprehensive university experience it gives the user. You can read lecture notes, watch a 30-minute lecture on, say, Energy 101 and then read the relevant chapter in the iBook that comes with the course. Assignments and materials are presented in a checklist format so you can progress at your own rate. New assignments open as the previous ones are completed. Some courses have interactive quizzes upon conclusion of the course so that you can assess your knowledge. ITunes U will also suggest related courses to continue your learning.

    iTunes U is not just for higher education. There are complete courses for K-12, including general math & science as well as more advanced classes in, e.g., geography, algebra and chemistry. Another section of the app, labeled Beyond Campus, includes materials from such august bodies as the Smithsonian, NASA and the Library of Congress. iTune U currently houses over 500,000 assignments. And the library is growing.

    Did we mention the best part? The entire thing is FREE, from the app itself to every single class. How many of you would love to take a free college course? How about in the comfort of your own home or from anywhere in the world using your iPhone or iPad? We feel this is the start of something extraordinary and cannot wait to see where Apple takes iTunes U next.

    For more examples of intriguing Apps, check out G/B’s App of the Week section.



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