updated 09:30 pm EDT, Thu October 18, 2007
Apple today expanded upon the free content available through its iTunes desktop software. Initially only offering lectures and videos from several universities, iTunes U section will expand on these by supplying debates from the Supreme Court, radio broadcasts on the civil rights movement, among other offerings in a new category they are calling "Beyond Campus". iTunes was originally designed as a gateway for its leading online music store (and less successful video store) as well as song/video and Apple device management for users.
iTunes U is a free service that enables universities to distribute content from course lectures or other supplied multimedia, as well as whether they wish for this information to be available to the public, rather than just to students and alumni.
Apple continues to expand iTunes--which along with its ubiquitious iPod--has helped it become the number three music retailer in the US.
Initially rolled out as an educational offering to university staff and students, the company took iTunes public earlier year, allowing them to access a wealth of online educational content. Currently more than 25 different universities offer content via iTunes, including Duke, Yale, and Stanford.
In the past Apple has also offered culturally significant events such as presidential debates and Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement address.
"But we found that there's a lot of educational content from other parties, and we thought it'd be a great opportunity to leverage iTunes U," Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of iTunes, told the AP.
Current 'Beyond Campus' offerings include KQED's Science and Nature series, Einstein's Ethics (transcripts and podcasts), the MoMa's look at Richard Serra Sculpture, and more.
According to the report, the Apple exec also noted that a larger learning catalog for anyone -- in college or not -- helps to broaden the appeal of Apple's ecosystem of PC, devices, and software, including iTunes and iPod.