What gives with iTunes U and Podcasts? Suddenly, there seems to be a bunch of content missing from iTunes U. Oh, but wait, I can find that material in Podcasts. What the heck happened to my educational material? It all boils down to something Apple told us a while back was going to happen, and we’re noticing it quite prevalently now. Let’s take a look at what happened.
About iTunes U Collections
Leading schools, universities, museums, and cultural institutions from around the world have long used iTunes U to provide free educational content. Part of that content consisted of individual, standalone lectures, language lessons, audiobooks, and more. Apple called that grouping of content, which usually didn’t make up specific courses, iTunes U Collections.
Instead, content providers planned for you to watch, read, or listen to each download on its own. Sure, you might find multiple language lessons from the same provider, for example. You didn’t find that content grouped together into courses, though.
The Podcasts app and section of iTunes hosts that content now. You can find it under that heading on your PC or Mac, or through the Podcasts app on your iOS device.
The State of iTunes U
Renewing its focus on organized education, iTunes U has been dedicated to free public courses. The iTunes U catalog isn’t cluttered with individual lectures that don’t really fit together into a curriculum anymore. Instead, iTunes U is now devoted to content designed around a single course subject.
That means you’ll find a lot less in the catalog now. However, what you find may be nominally more useful if you’re looking for university-style coursework. Instead of having to weed through introductory lectures and standalone lessons, you can now more easily find full courses on the subjects you want to learn about.
The downside to this move is that quite a bit of educational content is no longer available on Windows and Mac computers. You won’t find a menu item for iTunes U in the Mac or PC app anymore. The courses are only available through the dedicated app on iOS devices.
Finding iTunes U Content in Podcasts Is … Strange
Of course, this leads to a funny thing. If you search the iTunes Store from a Mac or PC for “iTunes U,” you’ll find a ton of podcasts. Even though Apple announced this transition months ago, there is a plethora of content that’s still labeled as iTunes U material, even though it now exists in podcasts.
I suspect that won’t change much. For one thing, many content providers have used Podcasts as a mechanism for training students and faculty how to use the platform. Then, too, many abandoned projects still exist in Apple’s treasure trove of content. The authors of many of these individual lessons produced them years ago, uploaded the content. They’re still there, but long forgotten. Some of those even use “iTunes U” in the titles, and the makers likely don’t remember even putting them up there.
Afterthoughts and Summaries
It’s strange to see so much content leaving iTunes on the PC and Mac. I’m not sure what Cupertino’s rationale is for limiting this material to iOS devices, but it is what it is. You can still find plenty of educational material in the Podcasts section of iTunes, albeit individualized and scattered.
If you’re looking for a more organized curriculum for a specific topic, it will be much easier to find that now. This move cleans up iTunes U to a more centralized repository of college and university courses, easing the struggle of weeding through one-off lectures to find full-blown classes.