App of the Week – iTunes U


We are continuing a series called App of the Week, wherein we recommend the best apps to support the academic experience. Please let us know what you think, and feel free to provide suggestions for apps we should review.

itunes-uYou may know and love iTunes for music, but did you know that iTunes has an app with access to free educational content from elite universities and cultural institutions worldwide? If you’ve seen it and ignored it, or looked at it long ago and didn’t see anything of interest, now’s the time to check out iTunes U.

iTunes U has been around since 2007 as an underrated resource in iTunes, with its iPad app released in 2012. Far from fading into irrelevance after years of little recognition, iTunes U’s resources and capabilities continue to grow.  According to Apple, iTunes U contains the world’s largest catalog of free education content–over 750,000 free resources (lectures, audio, video, documents) in 7,500 courses on thousands of subjects.


For current students, the iTunes U app can be an excellent supplement or tutor to your ongoing education. Having trouble understanding a particular concept in physics? Download a couple of different courses and look through their problem sets, textbooks, and other resources. Need help with your writing skills? If you can’t make it to the West Point Writing Center in time to answer your question, there’s a course for that.

Thanks to recent upgrades, instructors who upload courses to iTunes U have more teaching tools at their disposal. Previously, instructors could use their internet browser, Apple ID, and a few choice apps to create a course (sending content from their iPad to a computer to a web browser to iTunes) and have it delivered to a student’s iPad. Now, instructors can create course content directly on the iPad, including using the built-in camera to add photos and videos. It’s one-stop course building.

More cool features:
●    Like most Apple products, easy and intuitive to use
●    Variety of course materials supported on iPad include iBooks, PDFs, audio and video lectures, etc.
●    You can take notes and highlight text in iBooks
●    You can download all of the materials over WiFi, then access them on the iPad anywhere, anytime
●    You can opt in to automatic push notifications for a course so you never miss new content

Downsides: I can’t find any on the student side – the instructor side may have some frustrating features.

Bottom line: I think I’ve described enough iTunes U perks – check it out and find a topic you want to study! As always, feel free to let us know what you think, or ask any questions you may have.

Further reading:

EdShelf Review: iTunes U

Apple iTunes U Update Lets Teachers Create Class Content On The iPad

Apple Expands iTunes U Education App for iPads

The views expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. No endorsement or recommendation of any specific products or services is intended or implied.

Contents contributed by Lauren Dodd Hall, Circulation Librarian