Apple announces iTunes U downloads topped 1 billion

It could be the largest educational institution which never handed out one diploma. More than one billion downloads of class lectures, quizzes and assignments were downloaded from iTunes U, Apple announced Thursday.

In a press release, the technology firm unveiled class attendance numbers that would make even the best Ivy League schools jealous – if they weren’t already offering part of the service.

More than 250,000 students are enrolled in the service with content from 1,200 colleges, universities and K-12 schools. While Yale, MIT and Stanford are among the U.S. schools involved, a growing majority of schools from outside the U.S. are also taking part, the iPhone maker said…

Apple’s press release quotes Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue:

It’s inspiring to see what educators and students of all types are doing with iTunes U. With the incredible content offered on iTunes U, students can learn like never before – there are now iTunes U courses with more than 250,000 students enrolled in them, which is a phenomenal shift in the way we teach and learn.

Apple declared iTune U “the world’s largest online catalog of free educational content from top schools and prominent libraries, museums and organizations.”

iTunes U (most popular courses)

Indeed, more than 2,500 public courses on the arts, sciences, health, education, business and more are available.

Both Stanford and The Open University each have had more than 60 million items downloaded, Apple claims. A General Chemistry course taught by Ohio State University drew more than 100,000 iTunes U students during the first year it became available.

iTunes U downloads (Fortune chart 001)
Chart via Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune.

Additionally, the iTunes U app is popular outside the United States, with 60 percent of the downloads coming from Europe, Australia – even China.

iTunes U content can be accessed in 155 countries with Apple recently adding Brazil, South Korea, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

Do you access iTunes U content and if so, do you find it useful?