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Due to the COVID-19 crisis, there has never been a bigger demand for self-guided education, as hundreds of millions of students struggle to make up for months of missed school.
With an amazing sense of timing, Apple has announced plans to discontinue Itunes U, their collection of educational content which can be used for distance learning.
ITunes U launched in 2007 as a dedicated area within the iTunes Store where users could find free educational content from universities such as Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; Duke University; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The content included course lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports highlights and campus tours in audio, video or ebook format.
The service was widely embraced and contained hundreds of thousands of courses downloaded millions of times.
Apple has however been making changes to the service which made it accessible only on Apple’s own mobile devices such as the iPad, a device they were pushing as a solution for schools, restricting access to only Apple device owners.
This has led to speculation even last year that Apple was winding down the service.
Apple says they intend to replace the service with a product called Classroom.
Apple says Classroom turns your iPad into a powerful teaching assistant, helping teachers guide students through a lesson, see their progress, and keep them on track.
Schoolwork helps teachers save time and maximize each student’s potential by making it easy for teachers to share class materials, get students to a specific activity in an app, collaborate with students, and view student progress.
In addition to Classroom and Schoolwork, Apple also introduced Apple School Manager to enable IT Administrators to easily manage iPads, Macs, Apple TV, Apple IDs, books, and apps, while ensuring data is kept secure and private. Apps such as Pages, Numbers, Keynote, GarageBand, iMovie, Clips, and Swift Playgrounds have education-specific features that are used regularly by teachers and students.
Apple will discontinue iTunes U at the end of 2021. iTunes U will continue to be available to all existing customers through the 2020-2021 educational year, at which point content will have to be transitioned to other platforms.