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iTunes U hits 1 billion downloads

More than 60 percent of app downloads from iTunes U come from outside the United States, and the educational content can be accessed in 155 countries.

Apple iTunes U

That old college try seems to be working. Content downloads from iTunes U have surpassed 1 billion.

Apple today announced the passing of the milestone for the repository of free educational content from schools, libraries, museums, and other sources. iTunes U hosts more than 2,500 public and thousands of private courses from over 1,200 universities and colleges, and 1,200 K-12 schools and districts.

"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," Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, said in a statement.

The service is widely used around the world. More than 60 percent of app downloads from iTunes U come from outside the United States, Apple said. The scholastic content can be accessed in 155 countries, and educators can create iTunes U courses in 30 countries, including the recently added Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates.

That diffusion of access, as with other online learning initiatives such as the Khan Academy, means that students don't have to be on, say, the Stanford campus to partake in lectures and other coursework.

"Because of iTunes U, I have been able to introduce students and colleagues in China to research on the links between chronic multitasking, information overload and stress; discuss research publications and degree programs with students in Europe; and exchange information about the influence of neighborhood design on community levels of physical activity and obesity with students in Australia," Dan Stokols, a professor at University of California, Irvine, said in Apple's statement.

iTunes U hit 300 million downloads in August 2010.