It’s going to be much more useful on July 8th, when Apple releases a major overhaul to the app.Right now, iTunes U on the iPad isn’t a complete educational tool. Students, meanwhile, get some much-needed interaction — you can now ask questions from the app, or join in class discussions. The launch may be well-timed. It’s too soon to know whether or not the new iOS app will be strong enough to counter the fiercer competition, but it should at least be handy for classes that were already bent on using the iPad as a learning platform.
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The new iTunes U lets teachers create and manage courses entirely from the iPad, plucking source material from other apps and even the device’s camera. You can read textbooks, but not much else — you still need to use old-fashioned email to ask the teacher a question, for example. It also arrives just after Apple lost a lot of support from the Los Angeles school system, which is now diversifying its device mix beyond iPads.
iTunes U’s upgrade is coming just as Samsung has unveiled a brand new version of its School suite that has its own collaboration tools; teachers can push content to all their students at once, and students can participate in group projects. Thank you for reading.