Apple has updated its iTunes U application with a handful of new capabilities, including the ability for teachers to build whole courses directly on an Apple iPad tablet for the first time. The iTunes U software is a clearinghouse of educational information that allows teachers to create public and private courses that include lectures, assignments, books, and quizzes. Apple says thousands of educational institutions use iTunes U, which has over 750,000 individual learnings materials available for free. Apple’s iTunes U is part of a broader surge in new educational technology offerings that work to educate students, provide teacher resources, and manage classes. Some of the players in the space include the not-for-profit educator Khan Academy, software provider Renaissance Learning, and online-course operator Coursera.
Apple today announced it is updating its iTunes U app with new iPad-related features that’ll make it easier for teachers and students to use the tablet device for their online courses. These new features will be available starting July 8th. “Education is at the core of Apple’s DNA and iTunes U is an incredibly valuable resource for teachers and students,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “iTunes U features an amazing selection of academic materials for everyone around the world. Now, with the ability to better manage and discuss educational content, learning becomes even more personalized on iPad.” The new app updates will allow teachers to create full courses completely on their iPad by importing content from iWork, iBooks Author or educational apps in the iOS App Store. Teachers also can use the camera on the device to incorporate photos and videos into the course material. iPad-owning students enrolled in an iTunes U course will benefit from the update with a new discussion feature that allows them to collaborate with both teachers and other students in the class. Students can follow discussions and receive push notifications when new topics are created or new comments are added to an existing discussions.