More than 600 schools post lectures to iTunes U, Apple’s free catalog of lectures from colleges and universities around the world, which recently got some added visibility when Apple rolled out iTunes 9 this fall, reports the New York Times: its own prominent category next to music, movies, and podcasts. Apple now says it has about 250,000 individual classes available to the public. Near the head of the class, with more than 375,000 downloads a week, is Open University, a distance-learning institution based in Britain. The school said that last weekend its lectures on iTunes U crossed the 10-million-downloads mark. "We are now reaching people all around the world [whom], without iTunes U, we never would have touched," said Vice Chancellor Martin Bean, formerly the general manager of Microsoft’s education products group. Unlike most other universities, the Open University puts nearly everything on iTunes. That conceivably could undermine the school’s goal of getting people to pay for online classes. Instead, Bean looks at iTunes U as free marketing–an opportunity to take "all those active inquiries and those leisure learners and expose them to who we are as a university," he said…

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