If you haven’t heard of iTunes U, take a minute to give it a look. iTunes U is a segment of the iTunes store (where you buy music, books, apps, movies, and shows) that gives online learning a chance to become a part of your educational life. In fact, iTunes U recently passed the 1 billion downloads mark.
That is 1 billion lessons that were downloaded by anyone who wanted to learn more about topics that range from personal finance to virology. And those who want to learn range from high school kids wanting to prepare for college courses to retirees hoping to keep their minds active by pursuing new and interesting topics. Additionally, over 60% of iTunes U app downloads originate from outside the United States. And this is just one channel.
While Apple is often a leader, there are a lot of other competitors (or collaborators) in the online learning space. First there are quick and simple lessons in things like ASAPScience and ThingLink, which are as fun as they are simple. Going deeper into online learning are ideas like TED-Ed and MentorMob, collecting bright minds to create lessons on interesting topics. After that you reach Khan Academy, Coursera, and Udacity giving true instruction via video or massive open online courses (MOOCs). This level is probably where most would consider iTunes U would fall as well. However, it doesn’t stop there, online Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees can be earned at universities, such as Ashford University.
The wonderful thing about seeing Apple succeed with iTunes U is that Apple has already led in other fields of technology with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. This leadership shows a massive opportunity for growth in online education that many are already participating. Where it goes next is an exciting thing we are all looking forward to.