Apple announced a new milestone for its iTunes U online digital education outlet, which has just crossed the 1 billion download mark. Alongside the announcement, Apple has also informed us exclusively that the company has so far sold more than 8 million iPads directly into educational institution worldwide. iTunes U became a standalone app, complete with its own course marketplace and catalog in June 2012.
At the time, iTunes U had served up over 700 million downloads. The additional 300 million downloads mean that the pace of engagement for iTunes U is growing rapidly. iTunes U was introduced in May 2007, meaning that it took the educational product a full five years to rack up just a little over twice that amount. The rapid growth over the last nine months has likely been the result of a combination of factors, including the introduction of the standalone app and an increase in the adoption of iPads in educational settings.
AllThingsD reported earlier that to date, Apple has sold more than 4.5 million iPads to U.S.-based educational institutions, a figure which Apple confirmed to us as correct. Thanks to some clever calculation on the part of 9to5Mac’s Jordan Kahn based on publicly available information, it looks like the vast majority of that number was sold recently, over the past year in fact. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly stressed how important the education market is in the context of the iPad, and the fact that it’s doing so well with institutional sales both at home and abroad backs that up.
Apple also shared some details about school participation in iTunes U today, noting that more than 1,200 universities and colleges, and over 1,200 K-12 schools host over 2,500 public courses on iTunes U, along with thousands more private courses available only to enrolled students. Some big institutions are embracing iTunes U with particular vigor, Apple notes, including Standford and The Open University, both of which have racked up over 60 million content downloads alone. Some of the more popular individual courses have around 250,000 students enrolled, Apple noted.
Greg noted in a recent article that online education is fast replacing physical colleges, with startups like Coursera reaping many of the benefits. Apple has the advantage of being a very early player in this space, and the ubiquity of its iPad tablet is clearly helping the company add a lot more momentum to its efforts to help institutions embrace online learning.