Apple created a new section on its website dedicated to the enhanced iTunes U service that was updated during last week’s education announcement. The new web-based resources available at www.apple.com/support/itunes-u contain a wealth of information and how-to topics for educators to implement the new iTunes U digital features into their workflow. Specifically, training course are available for iTunes U Public Site Manager and iTunes U Course Manager, as well as various guides on publishing on iTunes U. Educators and students can also learn about creating different types of educational content, such as audio recordings, video clips, and interactive presentations.

iTunes U launched on May 30, 2007 as an iTunes section for educational audio and video podcasts and PDF files for college or university students and other users (content can be restricted). The iTunes app was required to access the iTunes U section until last week, when Apple took the wraps off a new iTunes U iOS app, available as a free download from the App Store. Sporting the mahogany bookshelf akin to the iBooks app, the program provides full access to the iTunes U content whilst bringing our many new features. For example, the app enables teachers to customize topics, post messages to the class, give assignments, and manage office hours and even stream content directly to classrooms on-demand. Apple also published a series of support documents outlining the dos and don’ts of iBooks Textbooks publishing and distribution. Apple’s new digital textbooks saw early downloads surpass a Global Equities Research—estimated 350,000 copies. In addition to the iTunes U app, Apple last Thursday updated iTunes and iBooks with the new digital textbooks priced at $14.99 or less and launched iBooks Author, a free textbook authoring tool for the Mac. LifeHacker has an extensive and useful article covering the best practices for iBooks Author.

In related news, we have learned Adept Scientifics’ mathematical notation software MathType is being used within iBooks Author for creating elements of math textbooks. The company explained “an Insert MathType Equation command appears on the Insert menu if MathType is installed.” This is a similar approach to the iWork ’09 suite that also utilizes MathType to integrate mathematical notation functionality.

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