iTunes U comes to the iTunes Store

Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of iTunes U as a dedicated area within the iTunes Store, offering free content from top U.S. colleges and universities. Participating institutions include Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley, Duke and MIT.

"It's just an amazing way for lifelong learners to get more material," said Chris Bell, Apple's director of worldwide marketing for iTunes. "This really opens up the world of digitial education."

iTunes U got its start as a hosted content management system for colleges and university to more easily post audio and video content online. Students can download the content to a Mac or PC then sync it to an iPod.

Up until now, iTunes U content has been available only at specific URLs that interested students or others needed to know the location of in order to view the content. This announcement throws the doors of iTunes U open to all iTunes Store users in the same way that podcasts work.

The content on iTunes U runs the gamut from lectures to language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports highlights and campus tours. Other participating institutions include NJIT, Queen’s University, Texas A&M, Otis College of Art and Design, Arizona State and more.

Update : Added comments from Apple executives.

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