Apple have announced the ePub (one of the eBook formats) is now available on iTunes U. Users of iTunes have been able to view eBooks in ePub format for some time using the iBook app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, but users of iTunes U have been restricted to distributing text using PDF.
Brian Kelly has recently been questioning What Are UK Universities Doing With iTunesU? as well as iTunes U: an Institutional Perspective, which is a guest post by Jeremy Speller, Director of Web Services at UCL. In the later post Jeremy highlights that for many iTunes U is ‘PR fluff’, mainly used by institutions to market their brand over any educational benefit. Jeremy saying:
For some reason this view is quite prevalent among those who don’t use the system and in my opinion misses the point of iTunes U completely. Sure, there is publicity to be had and, in UCL’s case as a launch partner, was valuable. Of course general PR shorts can be provided. But the real assets should be educational and examples of your institution’s scholarship.
I have to put my hand up and say I’m in the ‘iTunes U is a PR tool’ camp, but can you blame me when the Open University’s VC Martin Bean highlights that 88% of their iTunes U traffic is from outside the UK and is perceived as free marketing.
There is undoubtedly a cost to making resources available, to the point that even one of the biggest players in this field MIT are considering an OER paywall. At the same time there are also benefits, if not educationally, as a marketing opportunity. This in itself has got to be a good thing, stimulating the sector to release content, even if it is just to grab headlines. Besides I’m quite enjoying iTunes U poker: I see your Shakespeare's First Folio joins iTunes U and raise you OU makes one hundred interactive eBooks available on iTunes U.
[And guess what if you need a tool to make ePub eBooks our Create&Convert tool can help.]