Re: iTunes U Introduces Free eBooks: Download Shakespeare's Complete Works

It is not necessarily correct to say that iTunes U places public domain ePub-based eBooks behind a login window. There are potentially two faces of iTunes U per participating educational provider. There is an inward-facing version that is tied to an institution's authentication system. There is also a public, outward facing version that requires NO authentication.

Certainly, iTunes U is a part of the iTunes Store but they are distinctly separate in appearance and function. Everything in iTunes U is free and unencumbered by DRM. There is no mechanism for education providers to attach a price to any item in iTunes U or to add DRM.

An education provider's public facing iTunes U site is accessible to anyone with the iTunes application which is available for MacOS X and Windows (free download) and an Internet connection. An education provider's authenticated iTunes U site is much more selective than the usual login barrier. Your credentials in an institution's authentication system (LDAP, Kerberos, etc.) determine what you can see and do. Students and faculty see only the courses they are assigned to and can do only those things permitted by their role. This provides a private virtual classroom or meeting room very similar to what LMSs provide.

What I'm eager to see are unencumbered ePub-based eBooks written by faculty and students associated with these institutions and offered to the public for free via iTunes U just as audio, video and PDF files are freely available now.

Finally, it is important to note that subscribing to an iTunes U course (aka podcast channel or collection) downloads all media to your computer and thereby archives this stuff many times throughout the world for safe keeping, re-purposing or other good things. [Comment] [Permalink]