iTunes U comprises a unique niche within the iTunes Store, and provides users with an extensive amount of free educational content in a wide variety of subjects from a diverse pool of Universities around the world. Whether it be lectures, demonstrations, audio books, or hands on lab instruction, iTunes U makes educational material from top schools accessible to the masses. Understandably, a small portion of content is limited to students who attend a particular university, but by and large, most of the content is open to everyone. There are currently over 175 schools that participate in iTunes U, including many of the more prestigious institutions such as Harvard, MIT, Oxford University, Princeton, Stanford, and UCLA.
Last week, Apple told CNET that iTunes U had surpassed 100 million downloads, an incredible feat no matter how you look at it. For as dedicated as rival manufacturers are to competing with devices like the iPhone and iPod, Apple’s underlying advantage over the competition is the extensive breadth of content available on iTunes. iTunes U, for example, extends the influence of the iPhone/iPod beyond music and video, and into the realm of an integral classroom learning device.
One of the more popular downloads on iTunes U is a Stanford Computer Science course centering on iPhone app development. The course is taught by actual Apple engineers, and each lesson is made available as a free download 2 days after each session. Back in May, the iPhone course had already netted over 1 million downloads, making it the fastest course to ever reach the 1 million threshold in iTunes U history.