According to the BBC (and they can’t be wrong, can they?) it’s the U.K. Open University, with 40 million downloads so far:
Coughlan, S. (2012) Open University’s record iTunes U downloads, BBC News, October 3
Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that. The BBC thinks Stanford University and the OU must be running pretty close in terms of total downloads, but the OU is the clear winner in terms of the number of ‘hits’ it has running at one time. Here are the figures for today from the top 100 iTunesU individual downloads:
|5||Harrisburg Area CC|
The remaining places were shared between 12 institutions (including Harvard and Duke) at one place each. The top two downloads today are both TED presentations (‘Understanding Happiness’ and ‘Creative Problem Solving’). The OU has eight in the top 20, with Stanford next with 4. The ranking is based on total downloads over time. And good for Harrisburg Area CC, a community college in central Pennsylvania, for breaking into an elite list with five offerings.
Incidentally, if (like me) you were wondering about Commonsense Media, it is a ‘non-partisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology‘ based in San Francisco.
Altogether Apple estimates that there are 300 million downloads a year from iTunes U, with 350,000 lectures offered by more than 1,000 universities around the world. However, and I believe this to be significant, the OU material is deliberately designed for online learning, and rarely consists of a video recording of a lecture. This might explain why there are only 4 MIT downloads in the top 100.
I wish though that Apple would provide more statistics, such as how many downloads are videos, how many are podcasts and how many are in some kind of text format. They could also make it much clearer what the formats are and what the symbols mean beside each item.
There is in fact huge scope for Apple to make iTunesU a much more user friendly and a richer system for higher education – but then, it is a ‘free’ service after all, so one shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. But what about a partnership say, where the ‘big’ educational institutions set up a foundation to build on what Apple has done?
Now the $64,000 question: how many of you have actually used a download from iTunesU in an online course (either as student or instructor) – and how did it go? And if no-one replies, how do I interpret that?!