The 10 millionth Open University track on iTunes U, a dedicated area within the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com), was downloaded this week, making the OU a top provider of free university content on iTunes U. The Open University launched its first piece of educational content on iTunes U in June 2008 and now has an average of 375,000 downloads a week.
Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: “Forty years ago The Open University was created to give more people access to higher education and we have always used the latest technology and offered our material in a format that inspires our students. We’re still leaders in the field and the popularity of the OU on iTunes U lies in its originality.”
“Tracks from the OU’s 260 collections are consistently in the Top Twenty downloads and this week one in four of the top 100 downloads on iTunes U is from The Open University. We believe this success comes from offering new video and audio tracks from popular, current courses that easily incorporates into students' studies. People want educational materials that work while they are on the move and our vibrant and engaging content makes us enjoyable for both students and informal learners.”
With £2.9 million invested in new learning technologies over the last two years, the OU’s use of new media keeps pace with the changing world. Clips are also used from OU/ BBC programmes and reshaped and adapted specifically for iTunes U so that students anywhere in the world can download content to enjoy on their Mac, PC, iPod or iPhone. This learning flexibility has inspired many to get back into higher education and take a fresh look at formal study – one in ten visitors to the Open University on iTunes U goes on to visit our website.
The most popular collections have been in languages and science with the most downloaded to date being Beginners' French. Anyone can download OU tracks for free and research* shows that 12,000 OU students got their first experience of university through free content on the web before signing up as formal learners – many of them cite the OU’s use of new technologies, which helps them incorporate learning into their lives, as a key attraction.
Notes to editors
1. OpenLearn Research Report 2006-08 ISBN 9780749229252
2. The Open University (OU) is the United Kingdom's largest university and the world leader in distance education. More than two million people have studied with the OU since it began in 1969. The OU has more than 229,000 students in over 40 countries studying for a variety of degrees and vocational qualifications ranging from short courses to PhDs. 2009 is the 40th anniversary year of The Open University.
3.Independent authorities have consistently ranked the OU in the top five UK universities for teaching quality and virtually all of the University’s research areas have received ratings of national or international excellence. OU students are more impressed with the quality of their courses and the support received than those at any other UK university, based on the findings of the National Student Survey. The OU has been at the top of the rankings every year since the survey began in 2005.
4. The Knowledge Media Insititute is a highly successful interdisciplinary research centre founded at The Open University in 1995. It is widely acknowledged to be at the leading edge of research and development, particularly in semantic web technologies, multimedia and information systems, knowledge modelling and management, new media for learning and sensemaking. KMi is part of the OU’s Centre for Research in Computing, ranked as one of the top 20 research centres in the UK RAE 2008. The style, impact and content of our KMi’s can be seen at http://kmi.open.ac.uk/.