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iTunes U tops 1 billion downloads, 60% from outside US

Apple's educational app is top of the class, with a billion content downloads, 60 per cent of which are from outside the US.

Way to go, U! Apple has just announced that learning content for its educational app iTunes U has passed 1 billion downloads. The service first wandered into the classroom wearing short trousers in 2007, but didn't graduate to getting its own app until last year. Now it should get a gold star for achievement.

More than 250,000 students are enrolled on courses held through the app. You can use it to watch lectures, receive assignments, read books, and take part in quizzes. You can even chew gum while doing so, without being told off.

As well as bigging up the likes of MIT and Yale using iTunes U, Apple says more than 60 per cent of the app's content downloads come from outside the US, with Oxford, Cambridge, and The Open University keeping the British end up. iTunes U courses are available in 30 countries, including new additions Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. The app is up for download in 155 countries.

How times have changed. In my day, whiteboards were considered next-generation, compared to the squeaky old blackboards.

Apple is always keen to stress the educational potential of the iPad. At the iPad 3 launch, it showed clips of how the device had helped people with learning disabilities. There are also a host of other educational apps available, as well as on rival platforms like Android, of course.

Which is all great, but I'm not so sure about companies like Apple having a presence in the classroom. It's not quite the famous "Pepsi presents addition and subtraction" clip from The Simpsons (couldn't find it in English, I'm afraid), but it still leaves me feeling a bit uneasy.

Have you used iTunes U? What do you think of companies like Apple having a place in the classroom? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.