A Comprehensive Guide to iTunes U [iOS]

Learning at a prestigious college is an opportunity possible for very few. From Harvard to Stanford, the admission criteria for most of those colleges prevented many from attending. However, would you ever believe that you could learn from the professors of many of these colleges straight from your Mac and iOS device, as if you were in person? It’s possible with iTunes U. Despite iTunes U being available, not everyone takes advantage of this educational gift from Apple. Today, we will take a tour of iTunes U, showing you who’s teaching, and how to make the most of your learning experience.

iTunes U is one of the many components that Apple added to their education initiative last fall. iTunes U allows you to not only watch lectures from acclaimed universities worldwide, you can also follow along by being provided the course’s syllabus, assignments, and more. That means, the only difference between you and the students learning is person is that they are actually physically there to ask questions directly to the professor. It depends on the university how detailed the materials are, however, Stanford’s lectures are quite detailed and identical to the courses in person. This, in the end, allows anyone from the curious high school student senior, to senior citizens to learn more about subjects they are interested in.

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Technically, you only need an iOS device and Mac to take full advantage of iTunes U. However, to get the full college experience, there are a couple of other materials you should take advantage of. First, like any student, you should have a set notebook and writing utensil. This will make the classes feel more established for you, instead of just self-study by watching a couple of videos. This will allow you to keep track of what you are learning, have materials to look back on when studying, and more. Additionally, some courses, especially the more technological ones, may require additional software to download. Stanford’s Programming Methodology, an introduction to Computer Science, for example requires you to download their programming software Eclipse. This should be something to consider when you sign up. Additionally, some may also recommend you to purchase books, because they may be repeatedly referred to in the lessons. If you are serious about your studies on iTunes U, you may want to look into purchasing these books or checking them out at your local library. Amazon’s used marketplace also has very inexpensive books on sale as well.

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iTunes U features close to 200 well known schools from across the world. However, only a few are very well known and distinguished. Some of the best colleges featured on iTunes U are the ones that have made an effort for including iTunes U in with the class. Stanford, the university I used during my review of iTunes U, had some professors that acknowledged the distant learners when recording the lectures, knowing that they have special circumstances that may prevent them from seeking a course teacher etc. This made them feel more included. Along with Stanford’s well planning for iTunes U, many other universities including Massachusetts Institute for Technology, University of California at Berkeley, and even Yale. It is essential to check out each of the courses that these universities offer because you’d be surprised what you can learn, from Autism Theory and Technology to a course on Death.

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Finding the courses you want to learn is easy to do. The best way to do this is by searching on an iOS device. iTunes U for iOS has a more organized UI that makes searching easier to do. To search for courses on your iOS device, click Browse to search by school. If you want to search according to subject, click Featured, then Categories. To search on Mac, activate the iTunes for Mac application, then go to iTunes Store, and click iTunes U. Once you find the course you want to learn, you can begin learning right away by clicking “Subscribe Free”. From there, You can click on a video to begin a lecture, check out documents to get a background on what is ahead of you, and check out the assignments after your first lecture.

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So how can iTunes U help in your real life? After all, you can’t earn a degree for learning on iTunes U. This means that your learning on iTunes U is a personal experience, where you must find the courage within yourself to keep learning. You must also choose interesting subjects that you will want to go back to again and again. Additionally, iTunes U can be beneficial for many individuals, from a range of topics. From personal experience, I know of one high school student who checked out a Calculus course on iTunes U before having to learn it their junior year in school. iTunes U allowed him to know the basics and to accelerate in their classes that year. What can you take away from iTunes U? Let us know in the comments below!