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iTunesU.com - Take Free University Courses and Expand Your Horizons

iTunesU is exactly what it sounds like - a University course system that is integrated into iTunes itself. Think podcasting for professors. iTunesU can help you to constantly fortify your level of knowledge with lectures and courses across a wide variety of subjects.

In today's busy world, it isn't always easy to spend time advancing your education and keeping up to speed with the latest knowledge and information in your field.

Thankfully, iTunes has always been there to bring people music and podcasts no matter where you are. You can listen to iTunes on your iPad, iPhone or iPod when you're driving, exercising, or even when you're at work.

Because of this convenience, iTunes is also the ideal vehicle for maintaining your skill set and knowledgebase when it comes to the subjects that you really need to be an expert in. To bring that benefit to you, Apple has developed an invaluable area of iTunes called iTunesU.

Using iTunesU

Using iTunesU is pretty easy if you want to be a student. However, to access it in iTunes isn't so straightforward.

Rather than spending time browsing through iTunes listing for the iTunesU area, the fastest way to find it is just to go to the iTunesU app download web page and then click on the "View in iTunes" button.

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Accessing iTunesU

If you are a professor or you want to develop your own section of coursework in iTunesU, you can sign up from the >Apple in Education page.

You'll need to fill out a simple form and describe not only your own expertise, but what institution you work for.

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iTunesU Instructor Profile

Apple tries to encourage only professional University professors to supply the courses that are archived at iTunesU.

For users that want to take courses, you'll see in the iTunesU area inside of iTunes that there is a great listing of courses to choose from. You can see all of the newest available courses on the main iTunesU page - a great place to browse if you're just looking for interesting material to listen to or watch.

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iTunesU Main Page

Off to the right side of the page, you'll find an "All Categories" dropdown list under the "iTunes U Quick Links" area.

When you click on this dropdown box, you'll see just how extensive the offerings are at iTunesU. Subject areas include History, Language, Literature, and even Engineering and Mathematics.

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iTunesU Main Page

If you think about it, this is coursework and material that many students have to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars for at a College or University - so access to that information and those actual lectures is an extremely valuable resource.

These aren't just low-quality or amateur courses thrown together by people without any real expertise in the subject matter. iTunesU includes actual lectures from real Universities and from the actual professors that teach there.

For example, the University of Chicago's Department of Physics has its own iTunesU area, with video and podcasts.

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University of Chicago Department of Physics

Subjects that you'll find in this section include fluid-grain suspensions, cellular physics, and even some light-hearted videos like "Physics at the Breakfast Table", which could make for a great video to show in a high school physics classroom.

The videos are well-made and high quality. These would display fine even maximized on a flat-screen TV in the classroom.

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Physics Video

The courses and material offered at iTunesU isn't just for older students either. If you click on the K-12 category, you'll find videos made by educators that are tailored specifically for younger age groups.

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Lower Grade Materials

These videos could make for excellent supplemental learning material if you are a teacher for a grade school classroom. They can serve to introduce the subject at the start of a particular lesson series you've organized on a topic.

There is no such thing as having too much material to offer students, and iTunesU lets you enhance your classroom presentations with more than just chalkboard and lecture. Video or audio offers students new ways to absorb the topics that you want to present.

The great thing about most of the college-level courses offered at iTunesU is that the presentation of the videos make it feel as though you're actually sitting at a desk in the classroom, surrounded by other interested students.

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iTunesU In-Class Presentation

The videos are very high quality, and in most videos, when the professor starts drawing on the chalkboard - such as in the mathematics video shown below - the camera zooms right in so that you can see the illustrations and diagrams as clearly as though you were right there.

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iTunesU In-Class Presentation

The information covered in these lessons are not just superficial or basic either. For example, language courses offered at iTunesU dive into very detailed language mechanics, such as point of view, syllables and stress or accent marks.

Yes, iTunesU is a great place to go if you want to learn a new language just as though you were taking an actual college-level language class.

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Spanish Class

At iTunesU, you'll also find impressive documentaries, if you're just interested in learning about and seeing things that you otherwise would never have an opportunity to see.

One example is the excellent "National Geographic Live!" channel at iTunesU, which streams real documentaries on all kind of amazing subjects. Some examples include the Titanic, the Civil War, and mysteries like that of Easter Island.

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National Geographic Live

You won't only find classroom presentations at iTunesU, you can find just about any subject matter that interests you. For example, if you are a big art fan, why not take a tour through the Currier Museum of Art's exhibition presentations?

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Currier Museum of Art

These videos are like taking an actual tour through the museum, with detailed coverage of an artist or a specific work of art. These are interesting, detailed presentations from people that really know their stuff.

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Beyond Campus

If you're ever worried that you'll run out of videos to watch or podcasts to listen to, just take a quick glance at the "Beyond Campus" directory, where you'll find listings for everything from "Health Affairs" to "IEEE". Each channel includes a subset of videos that will hold your interest (and keep you educated).

Education doesn't have to cost a fortune these days. With free resources like iTunesU, you can stay up to speed on the subjects that are most important to you, whenever it is most convenient to do so.

Written September 3, 2012 by Ryan Dube


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