It may seem like the iTunes Store is all about frivolity, but it turns out there’s plenty of learning too. Apple on Tuesday announced that iTunes U, the online educational catalogue it hosts, has topped over 300 million downloads in about three years. iTunes U began as a hosted content system for higher education institutions, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the catalogue was integrated into the iTunes Store, making content such as lectures and interviews available to the public.
Since then, a number of prestigious universities from around the world have joined the program, including Harvard, Northwestern University, Stanford, Oxford, MIT, and more. And the content has grown from simply courses and lectures adding campus tours, sports highlights, lab demonstrations, and more.
iTunes U isn’t limited to colleges and universities, either. In 2009, the commonwealth of Virginia made the service parts of one of its education initiatives, using it to share digital content.
According to the company, there are more than 800 universities worldwide with active iTunes U sites and almost half of them make their content available for free, public download. More recently, universities from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and Singapore have joined the party, bringing the total number of available iTunes U downloads to more than 350,000 audio and video files.