Stanford, Duke, Drexel, University of Michigan and several other universities have been making lecture notes, podcasts and other content available via a custom iTunes store hosted by Apple.
With these pilot programs well under way for several months, Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple (Quote, Chart) this week formalized the unveiling of iTunes U, a program specifically designed to help schools make their content available to students online via the iTunes store. Apple is providing free hosting services to the universities. An iTunes U store can include lectures, podcasts, course materials, and audio books available on an authenticated basis (i.e. via password) to students, teachers and administrators. Stanford was the first and one of the few to also make content available to the public through its Stanford on iTunes program.
Stanford has a separate iTunes store for registered students, faculty and administrators; the public site includes lectures, book readings, music and drama performances that were recorded on. One of the most popular downloads was a series of lectures by the Dalai Lama who spoke at the campus in November. Stanford also has a podcast service where registered users can be notified when new content appears. Any RSS reader should also work. It's about 20 courses in areas like the arts and music and medicine where the public site has been using multimedia materials already in the classroom. There are no plans to require students to have iPods or for Stanford to provide them. The university has numerous PC and Macintosh workstations on campus loaded with iTunes that can be used to access content.