Apple goes to school: new New iTunes U app takes top universities online

  • Apple launches iTunes U app
  • More free lectures available as education moves online
  • Note taking in books will be consolidated into study notes

Apple’s new iTunes U app heralds a dramatic change in the world’s approach to education.

Announced on Friday, the new app will allow students across the world to access university courses from Harvard, Stanford, Duke, and Oxbridge for free. Students will be able to access lectures, quizzes, assignments, books, and syllabuses through their iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches. Note-taking within books is automatically consolidated into study notes for later review, and students can receive notifications that will keep them up to date with classes.

Taking these classes online will "[enable] students anywhere to tap into entire courses from the world's most prestigious universities," Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, said. In Australia, where many universities have already taken the first steps to getting their courses online, this may mean that attendance is no longer a mandatory part of education, and universities like Oxford are not so far away.

Australian universities have already moved to embrace Apple technology as educational tools. In 2011, the University of Adelaide gave all its first year science students a free iPad, promising a more interactive learning experience now that textbooks and courses could be more frequently adjusted and updated.

"By 2012 onwards, we expect to roll out fully online versions of our first-year Science courses," Professor Bob Hill, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science said then.

Similarly, the University of Melbourne and University of Sydney among others have taken their lectures online so students who miss classes can download them rather than miss out on material. As more Australian universities move to embrace technology in their educational delivery, it seems likely that the iTunes U app will be a way to build international communities of learning.

The iTunes U app is available for free download now through the Apple Store.

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