Apple announces iTunes U update with iPad Course Creation, Student Discussions & more

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Screenshot showing new iTunes U “Student Discussions” feature

Apple today announced an update to its iTunes U educational app that includes a number of new features for iPad including course creation tools, a Student Discussions feature and improved management tools for teachers.

“Education is at the core of Apple’s DNA and iTunes U is an incredibly valuable resource for teachers and students,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “iTunes U features an amazing selection of academic materials for everyone around the world. Now, with the ability to better manage and discuss educational content, learning becomes even more personalized on iPad.”

The new features will begin rolling out July 8 with the ability for teachers to create and manage previously uploaded lessons directly from the iPad. Apple says the course creation features will let teachers grab content from iWork, iBooks Author or “any of the over 75,000 educational apps available for iPad.” It will also let teachers use the iPad’s camera to include shots and video of real-world items in courses. The course creation feature will be available to educators in all 69 with the materials they create distributed in up 155 countries. 

As for students, a new Discussions feature will bring a social element to the app allowing students and teachers to easily interact with one another: With Discussions in the iTunes U app, students can automatically follow classroom discussions and join conversations on new topics, or set up push notifications for when new topics are started or replies are added to active exchanges. Teachers can participate in forums too, and have the ability to moderate discussions by removing any off-topic messages or replies.

In its press release, Apple said “nearly 30,000 Multi-Touch™ books have been created by independent teachers and publishers worldwide.”

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