Universities add open eBooks to iTunes U

Martin Bean, vice chancellor of The Open University, said in a statement that the school avoids eBooks that are simply a textbook’s words in electronic format. Instead, Bean said, the university’s EPUB-format works would include video and audio to supplement text-based lessons.

“We do not simply rework existing material and old-style textbooks into an electronic format, but design carefully thought-through, interactive features that give the best all-around learning experience,” he said. “This really helps to bring subjects to life and simplifies things for students, as you don’t have to be online or carry lots of different materials.”

Making academic material available on popular mobile devices could become a goal for colleges and universities worldwide hoping to expand their eBook offerings: An international market research firm predicts a 55-percent jump in smart-phone sales this year.

The mobile device market analysis, released this fall by International Data Corp. (IDC), is welcome news to researchers who have predicted a jump in smart-phone use for educational purposes, because college-aged men and women are among the likeliest to use the technology.

There will be about 270 million smart phones—such as the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry—shipped during 2010, a major jump from the 173 million sold in 2009, according to IDC’s projections.

More than 119 million smart phones were shipped in the first half of 2010, up from the 77 million shipped in the first six months of 2009, according to the report.

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