UK: Open University Claims iTunes Download Record

Universities around the world are now distributing material through the iTunes U educational area of the online service, writes Sean Coughlan at the BBC.

The global figure for downloads from iTunes U has reached 250 million. And now The Open University has claimed the record for the most amount of downloads.

"The way people want to learn is changing," says Open University vice-chancellor, Martin Bean.

The OU began putting material on Apple's iTunes U service in June 2008 and in two years has had 20 million items downloaded.

The free downloads include a range of items to support courses and deliver learning materials, including video and audio clips and tutorials which are available to the general public as well as students.

Quelle surprise, the biggest single hit download from the Open University is Beginner's French.

More than a quarter of downloads are for the"STEM" subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths.

The university says that mobile phones are increasingly being used to download its tracks.

Mr Bean says that the growth of the iTunes U concept reflects the changing ways that people are learning.

"Many now actively seek out content they are interested in and which they can watch, read or listen to when it suits them," he says.

The university now has 525 courses available on the internet, with 162,000 students for online courses.

This trend is going to increase further, says Peter Scott, director of the OU's Knowledge Media Institute.

"There is a real worldwide hunger for learning," he says.

These educational iTunes downloads are now available from many leading universities – putting lectures and materials in reach of an online audience. For example, Oxford University last month announced that there had been more than three million downloads of its tracks on iTunes U.

The current top 10 includes Cambridge University's "The art of asking the right question" and Warwick University's "Sex in the Ancient World".

Matthew Tabor

Matthew Tabor

Matthew is a prolific, independent voice in the national education debate. He is a tireless advocate for high academic standards from pre-K through graduate school, fiscal sense and personal responsibility. He values parents’ and families’ rights and believes in accountability for teachers, administrators, politicians and all taxpayer-funded education entities. With a unique background that includes work in higher education, executive recruiting, professional sport and government, Matthew has consulted on new media and communication strategies for a broad range of clients. He writes the blog “Education for the Aughts” at , has contributed to National Journal’s ‘Expert’ blog for Education , and interacts with the education community on Twitter and Google+.
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