Apple’s educational content delivery platform has passed the 1 billion downloads mark in total, Apple announced today.

iTunes U has also delivered more than 300 million pieces of content since it became an app separate from the rest of the iTunes store in January 2012. Prior to that, iTunes U was a section of the iTunes store that educators could use to deliver course content in a podcast-like feed to subscribers. Apple first launched its program in 2007, allowing educational institutions to host their own site taking advantage of the iTunes infrastructure for content delivery.

The app goes beyond delivering lectures in video or audio formats. It provides bios of teachers, a course syllabus, information about office hours and credit value, and can deliver assignments with deadlines directly to students. The app can integrate with iBooks if an e-book is on the reading list for a course.

Related Story: Apple looks to disrupt education industry with iBooks 2, iTunes U launch

Apple’s focus on the education market has been no secret, with the event launching iTunes U in 2012 entirely focusing on the education market. Apple is selling the iPad as tool for students that can not only replace text books, but provide an interactive learning experience that goes beyond the classroom. It’s become an important business-to-business market for Apple to focus on and has big growth potential as schools slowly move away from text books and also welcome the more economical model of serving more students that don’t take up space in physical classrooms. (As an extreme example, one professor at the University of California, Irvine enrolls 170,000 students in an Environmental Psychology ¬†course.)

Overall, more than 1,200 post-secondary institutions and 1,200 Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools are providing content on iTunes U, Apple says. More than 60 per cent of iTunes U downloads originated outside of the US.

In Canada, Universities using iTunes U include Concordia, McMaster, University of Saskatchewan, Brock, McGill, Queen’s, Western Ontario, University of British Columbia, University of Lethbridge, and Universite de Montreal.


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