How would you like to get educational content worth in the tens (and perhaps even hundreds) of thousands of dollars for free?
That is, in a sentence, the entire premise of iTunes U – Apple’s online catalog of educational content that is available to anyone for free. Before, it was restricted entirely to iTunes, but with the iPhone and the iPad becoming ever more popular, it was natural for Apple to release an app for iOS device users to be able to access iTunes U on the go. Let’s take a look at it.
Interface and Design
The interface and design of the iTunes U app is very reminiscent of the iBooks app, with some elements from the App Store app that come included in all iOS devices. All lessons you download or courses you subscribe to are displayed on a bookshelf that serves as your main learning hub. This resemblance is not a coincidence of course, since tailoring the app that way makes it instantly familiar to anyone who has used iBooks or the App Store before.
This makes navigating through the app is fairly easy, with featured content taking the spotlight and menus at the bottom of the screen that are used to navigate the top charts and browse through the different categories of courses offered.
In the past, iTunes U used to be only a collection of educational podcasts, with all content limited to just some video, audio and reading materials. Now the catalog has expanded vastly and offers entire courses, all of which are available through the app as well. In addition to that, every day more educational institutions enlist to provide content through iTunes U, while the ones already there make great efforts to keep their content fresh and relevant.
These continuous efforts on the part of educational institutions have rapidly increased the variety of subjects available in iTunes U, making it easy to find educational content related to a vast number of fronts ranging from the traditional math and science, technology, literature and humanities to even app development and language learning. Best of all? Most of them come from the topmost educational institutions out there.
To access lectures or courses, iTunes U allows you to download individual lessons or to subscribe to entire courses all from the same screen. If you would like to simply hear, view of read any given lesson on the spot you can also choose to play it right from within the app.
To make your learning experience even smoother, several of the lessons that you can get from iTunes U are linked directly to other content offered by Apple, namely iBooks. So you might find a footnote or link within a lesson of iTunes U that when tapped, will open directly on that book on your iPhone or other iOS device if you happen to have it downloaded on iBooks.
Final Thoughts on iTunes U
Looking at the wide array of subjects that can be accessed through iTunes U and to the added options that Apple has implemented into the service and the app, it is easy to see just how important the education front has become for Apple.
The potential is there, and perhaps the only two limiting factors to iTunes U now are the number of people with iOS devices and the lack of abundant content in other languages. But if you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and English is the language you like to learn in, then you should definitely take advantage of the largest, free educational catalogue in the world.