General
29 Jun 2010

The Open University is the first university worldwide to reach 20 million downloads on iTunes U

The Open University (OU) today reached a milestone as the first university to hit 20 million downloaded tracks on iTunes U, a dedicated area within the iTunes Store (www.itunes.com). With an average of over a quarter of a million downloads per week*, the OU’s popularity has soared since content was first made available on iTunes U in June 2008.

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: “I am delighted that the popularity of The Open University on iTunes U continues to go from strength to strength. Our success lies in providing original, custom-built content for iTunes U, linked to current and popular OU courses. Students are able to incorporate tracks into their studies, while informal learners anywhere in the world can tap into these excellent materials for free.”

Most people downloading the OU’s tracks do so to continue their own education, with 96%** of respondents to an OU audience survey saying that they use the materials for learning. An upsurge in people accessing OU student websites on their mobile devices reinforces the increasing popularity of more flexible content like the materials on iTunes U. In June 2008, when The Open University on iTunes U was launched, 1,370 students accessed the OU’s student websites via their mobile devices – in May 2010, this had risen massively to over 11,000 unique student visitors in that month alone.

Over half of those who download OU content from iTunes U** engage with it whilst undertaking other activities. Martin Bean continued: “The way people want to learn is changing: many now actively seek out content they are interested in and which they can watch, read or listen to when it suits them. New channels are helping people to fit learning in with their lifestyles, and the OU has always kept pace with the changing world of technology, which is why we are such a resounding success on iTunes U.”

Over 4.5 million downloads from The Open University on iTunes U in the past year*** relate to tracks in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects – accounting for 28% of the total downloads in that time. Anyone can download OU tracks from iTunes U for free, and the most popular collections from The Open University on iTunes U have been languages and arts with the most downloaded to date being Beginner’s French.

Ends

Notes to editors

1. * - based on a 12 week average.

2. ** - 96% of those who responded to an OU iTunes U audience research survey said that they use the materials for learning. 58% of those who responded to an OU iTunes U audience research survey said that they listen to materials whilst doing another activity. Survey conducted from September 2009 – January 2010, data from a sample of 1,000 people.

3. *** - from 25 June 2009 – 25 June 2010, 4,545,300 downloads from The Open University on iTunes U were from the subject areas of science, technology, engineering and maths.

4. The Open University (OU) is the United Kingdom's largest university and the world leader in distance education. More than 1.5 million people have studied with the OU since it began in 1969. The OU has more than 250,000 students in over 40 countries studying for a variety of degrees and vocational qualifications ranging from short courses to PhDs.

5. Independent authorities have consistently ranked the OU in the top five UK universities for teaching quality and virtually all of the University’s research areas have received ratings of national or international excellence. OU students are more impressed with the quality of their courses and the support received than those at any other UK university, based on the findings of the National Student Survey. The OU has been at the top of the rankings every year since the survey began in 2005.

6. The Knowledge Media Institute is a highly successful interdisciplinary research centre founded at The Open University in 1995. It is widely acknowledged to be at the leading edge of research and development, particularly in semantic web technologies, multimedia and information systems, knowledge modelling and management, new media for learning and sense making. KMi is part of the OU’s Centre for Research in Computing, ranked as one of the top 20 research centres in the UK RAE 2008. The style, impact and content of KMi can be seen at http://kmi.open.ac.uk/.

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