The college student's guide to getting started with iTunes U

iTunes U is more than just lectures, even letting college students to turn in homework without leaving the dorms. Here's how to get started with iTunes U 3.0 on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

student with an ipad itunes u

iTunes U 101

iTunes U started out as a platform for watching college lectures. But now, it’s become a full-blown educational tool for students using iOS devices.

This summer Apple made iTunes U even more indispensible by adding a bunch of new features, including allowing college students to turn in their homework without leaving their dorm room. Here’s how to get started with iTunes U 3.0 on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

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Install the iTunes U app

The first step is not rocket science: Download the free iTunes app from the App Store. The iOS app works on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. iTunes U for Apple Watch, where are you?

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Enroll in a course

If your professor has setup course material on iTunes U, he or she will share an enroll code or send out a link to give you access. Professors have the option to approve requests from students who’ve entered the enroll code or auto-approve anyone with the code or link. 

If your college or professor is not using iTunes U as a classroom tool, you can still find and enroll in public courses by browsing the iTunes U course catalog. The original mission of iTunes U, to provide free access to college courses from prestigious universities, is still intact. These public courses are designed for self-teaching, however, so don’t expect to receive any college credit.

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Access course materials and take notes

Once you’re enrolled in a course, you’ll have instant access to all its materials with at few taps on the iTunes app on your iPhone or iPad. Professors make sure to include all documents, presentations, spreadsheets, graphs, audio files, videos, podcasts, web links, iBooks, and any other iOS apps that will be used as resources during assignments as the course progresses. These materials are always available on your device for easy reference, while in the classroom or after class.

If you are using iTunes U on a 3rd generation iPad or later, or on an iPad mini 2 or later, you can now annotate PDF files using a stylus or your finger. These notes add personalized context to your learning materials without having to leave iTunes U.

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Turn in your homework

We remember our college days having to rush to our professor’s office to physically hand in an essay or research project before the 9am deadline. iTunes U now has a new feature that lets students turn in their homework assignments using their iOS devices. 

Homework hand-in puts a timestamp on when the assignment was submitted. After  your professor (or the TA) finishes grading the homework, you can see your grade by checking back on iTunes U. Professors can also send alerts to notify all students enrolled in the class about an upcoming deadline and  send you a private message with feedback on your work.

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Chat with your professors

An easy way to make a good impression with your professors is to drop by during their posted office hours. But college students are super busy, with all those classes that take up about 10 whole hours a week. iTunes U now also lets students and professors chat privately about an assignment or anything else related to the course. It’s a great way to get instant feedback if a homework question is puzzling you at the last minute.

In addition, professors can post announcements that all the students enrolled in the class can view on iTunes U. These classwide announcements can be anything from classroom changes or finals being postponed indefintely (dream on).

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Go for some extra credit

In addition to the new features to help students be more engaged and productive, iTunes U still boasts a giant repository of video lectures from bigshot universities like Stanford and Yale. And these courses are available to everyone on the iTunes U app, not just college students. Although you might need a college student’s determination (and lack of a 40-hour workweek) to get cracking on “Intro to Constitutional Law.”

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