Apple's iTunes U smashes one billion downloads milestone

Apple's iTunes U has seen over one billion downloads of free educational content, the company has announced today, with some schools seeing courses with quarter-million registrations and 60m individual downloads. Revealed a little over a year ago, iTunes U offers free educational material and related content from universities, colleges, schools, K-12 districts, and private courses to the iPad.

According to Apple, more than 1,200 universities and colleges are involved, along with 1,200 K-12 schools and districts, and over 2,500 public and private courses are sharing materials through iTunes U. Some of the courses have been incredibly popular: an Ohio State University general chemistry course saw over 100,000 enrolments, for instance, though the system has also allowed more esoteric courses to flourish.

More than 60-percent of the iTunes U app downloads are happening outside of the US, it's revealed, and there are now over 75,000 educational apps in the App Store, and more than 10,000 Multi-Touch books created with iBooks Author. That free tool, revealed alongside iTunes U last year, allows for the simple creation of interactive textbooks and other content, though they can only be shared in their complete form through Apple's own stores.

The push to provide more iTunes U content hasn't been an entirely altruistic one for Apple, which has seen renewed interest in schools and colleges providing iPads for their students. Mansfield Independent School District in Texas, for instance, bought over 10,000 of the tablets, for high school students and faculty.

There's more on iTunes U in our hands-on, and you can find a preview of the iPad content available here.