Apple says iTunes U tops a billion downloads

MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS - The Apple Inc. logo is seen in the lobby of New York City's flagship Apple store in this January 18, 2011 file photo.

Apple has reached an iTunes milestone, announcing that the company’s iTunes U courses have topped a billion downloads.

The company announced the news Thursday, saying that more than 250,000 students are enrolled in the free educational courses. Over 1,200 universities and colleges — and the same number of K-12 schools and districts — contribute more than 2,500 courses on a variety of topics through the service. These include classes from universities such as Yale, Cambridge, Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Stanford University alone, the company said, has seen more than 60 million downloads.

The company first introduced iTunes U in 2007, and introduced an iPad and iPhone application for the service last January that allowed teachers to create syllabi, post lecture notes and share videos with their students.

Since the service’s launch, it has become a truly international affair — something Apple says has spread the reach and influence of participating universities far beyond the borders of their own countries. In the release, Apple said that more than 60 percent of the downloads originate from outside the United States. People in more than 155 countries, including Brazil, South Korea and China, have access to the course content.

Apple is one of several organizations that have been fueling the growth of online classes, along with other notable initiatives such as the Khan Academy, which The Washington Post reported serves more than 239 million students.

The company announced this year that app downloads from its iTunes store as a whole topped 40 billion.

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