Apple's iTunes University content delivery service has been around for a number of years now. While most of the universities on offer through iTunes U are overseas — if you've ever fancied checking out what Philosophy from Oxford University is actually like, you can — at the time of writing, 13 Australian universities offer course materials, podcasts and general university information through iTunes U.
What can I do with iTunes U?
For a start, you can get yourself a fairly interesting education if you're committed enough to browse the available information. There's no requirement for material to be locked down to accredited students only, although the amount of content available through iTunes U varies by university and over time. Most folk probably lack the self-discipline to technically qualify for a PhD in Latin, however.
Where it can be useful for prospective university students, however, is in checking out the quality and type of courses on offer beyond what can be gleaned from a simple prospectus. Think of it as a university taste test, which is how we've approached testing each university's iTunes U content.
What if my universities of choice aren't on iTunes U?
Panic not! iTunes U is really just an interface, and the universities on iTunes U (as well as most of the other higher education institutions across Australia) offer up course content via their websites. Quite how open to distributing their material each university is varies widely though, with some institutions locking it all behind a student log-in while others offer up some course materials.
Here again you can use some resources in a comparative sense. For example, there's a coalition of universities (including some who offer content via iTunes U) who run the Open Universities website that offers up content outlines for Monash University, Curtin University, Macquarie University, Griffith University, RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of South Australia. Whatever you do, the same basic research principles apply as they do via iTunes U. It's not the same as completing the actual courses, but working out upfront whether the approach of a particular institution (or even a given lecturer) works for you can save you wasted study time and fees upfront.
But back to what's on offer for Aussie iTunes U students. We've checked out each of the 13 currently available universities and their current offerings — just click each page for further info.