At Apple’s education event held last week on Jan. 19, the company announced three new education initiatives: iBooks 2.0, iBooks Author, and a major update to iTunes U. While the changes to iBooks and the new iBooks Author program are of interest to us, I’d like to focus here on the changes made to iTunes U.
The first change is that iTunes U now allows for full courses. A course is defined by Apple as a collection of audio, video, iBooks textbooks, ePub books, syllabi and class assignments, posts from the instructor, PDFs, presentations, and more.
While this is not a truly interactive course management tool like Blackboard, it does allow instructors to include their own iBooks textbooks, syllabi, and assignments, and gives an overall structure and timeline to their courses.
The new courses are meant to be taken at an individual learner’s own pace, just like past collections in iTunes U, however it definitely expands on what has been possible with iTunes U courses in the past.
At this time we do not have any of these new courses available for Missouri State on iTunes U, but we are hoping to test this new functionality with some volunteer instructors in the near future.
iTunes U App
The other major new component of iTunes U is the new iTunes U app for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch). The new app looks very similar to iBooks’s bookshelf; both courses and collections in iTunes U appear within the app.
Any time a user wants to search for new iTunes U content, they will open the app and select the Catalog button on the top menu bar. The catalog interface behaves just like iTunes; when a user is finished searching the catalog, they can press the Library button to return to this bookshelf view.
It is worth noting that to use iTunes U on any mobile device, a user is now required to have both the new iTunes U app as well as have their iOS operating system upgraded to the latest version (5.01). If a user attempts to search for iTunes U content on a device with an older version of the OS, they are directed to upgrade as well as download the new app.
The iTunes U experience in the iTunes software on the desktop is, as of this writing, unchanged from how it has previously functioned; these changes only affect iTunes U on mobile devices.
Below is a collection of articles I have collected since the rollout of these new education initiatives. Please visit them to learn more about the new iTunes U as well as the other new Apple education products: