iTunes U

Face 1: Market Focus

Primarily a content distribution channel for the Higher Education Market, iTunes U also distributes content for the K-12 market.  While I have not been able to find an example of corporate or trades training, iTunes U provides distribution for a third content market – Cultural Institutions (CI) under the heading Beyond Campus.  This third market includes content providers like the New York Public Library, National Public Radio, and Edutopia.

Face 2: Types of Offerings

iTunes U provides both:

·        the infrastructure to deliver online content (audio or video podcasts)

·        An enormous publicity mechanism for this content (through the iTunes Store)

The online content can be made available to all iTunes users, or restricted to authorized (registered) students.

Face 3: Who is the Buyer?

University Administrators (Web Communications) work with iTunes U to manage content delivered through the site.  Unlike other free-content platforms, iTunes U limits participation to “…any qualified higher-education institution…”.  Presumably, K-12 and CI providers are added by exception.

An article in the Washington Post (“Is iTunes U for You?”) argues that universities see iTunes U as “…both a free promotional tool, and a public service.”

Face 4: Global Markets states:

iTunes U is available to any qualified higher-education institution in United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and United Kingdom.

Distributes for/Distributes to

Although not yet available as a content distributor for markets outside those listed countries listed above, iTunes U is available “Wired Anglophone Countries” through “Asian Countries with Quality Internet.”  Many providers note the significance of receiving email from downloaders in distant and exotic locals.

Face 5: Development of the Market

Although use of the service is currently restricted to a limited number of western markets, expansion into other ipod/iphone/iglass-purchasing markets seems inevitable.

For content providers, the iTunes U platform should work well in any market that can supply the required computer and internet infrastructure.  In some markets, political sensitivities will conflict with free access to content from unsanctioned providers.  Protectionist concerns regarding import of infrastructure should be addressed by the local production of content, and Apple’s cost-free service.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

This platform works within a broad range of well developed learning systems.  Content is largely provided to augment the formal (for-fee) instruction provided by institutions, and to provide access to content for self-directed learners.




1 Marc Kampschuur { 09.22.08 at 11:12 pm }

Am curious as to the support Apple will provide once contacted by an academic institution. There is some support on their site but is not that indepth. Its also interesting how the Creating Your iTunes U Site Guide is just about the same length as the Promoting Your iTunes Guide (or how not to infringe on Apple’s intellectual property guide).

Could not find it on a cursory review but am also curious who ends up owning the rights to the content (is it a FaceBook type of approach, you put it on our server its ours?).

The benefits look tremendous. Users familiar with interface. Interface supported/developed by Apple. Hardware compatibility essentially a non-issue.

Likely will see integration with iLive & iWork soon – can access course in iTunes, send to iWork, manipulate/edit notes to suit user, collaborate, redistribute/submit… In terms of installed user base and growth potential it looks to have legs.

Thanks for the intro to it.

2 David Vogt { 09.23.08 at 8:46 pm }

Nice work, Mike, and good questions Marc.

You didn’t look deeply at the business model here in terms of the “buyer”. Is this simply a “lost leader” for Apple in order to get people into their iTunes store (so the “buyer” is actually the student in the long run) or is Apple attempting to corner a market so well that it can begin charging Institutions for content management system (CMS) and learning management system (LMS) premiums down the road (so that the Institutions will be the real “buyer”)? What do you see as Apple’s end play in this?

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