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Learning New Skills From Your iOS Mobile Device

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Avid iPhone and iPad user Jason Rich introduces you to the free iTunes U educational content that’s available for the Apple iPhone and iPad, plus explains a handful of others ways you can use your iOS mobile device as a personal enrichment or educational tool.

By using the free iBooks 2 app and visiting Apple’s iBookstore, you can access a vast and ever-growing library of how-to and instructional books that cover just about any topic imaginable, from how to replace your kitchen sink, to understanding ancient Roman architecture. However, if you enjoy learning by seeing, hearing, and doing, an educational alternative is to access the free iTunes U content available via the iTunes U app.

Apple has teamed up with some of the most prestigious K-12 schools, colleges, graduate schools, and other educational institutions throughout the world, as well as leading scholars, to create a vast collection of online-based classes and lectures that are accessible anytime, from virtually anywhere, using your iPhone or iPad that has an Internet connection.

Some of this content is audio-based, but much of it includes video and self-paced classes with interactive materials, including iBooks textbooks that are designed specifically for the iPad. All educational content from iTunes U is available for free using the iTunes U app that’s available from the App Store. Some of this content requires a constant Internet connection to stream, although much of it can be downloaded and experienced on your mobile device with or without an available web connection.

Currently iTunes U has amassed a collection of more than 500,000 free lectures, classes, full-length courses, instructional videos, books, and other resources that cover just about every subject that’s currently being taught in K-12 schools, colleges, or graduate schools. You’ll also find a vast selection of personal enrichment programs and courses taught by experts from cultural institutions, museums, and libraries.

Continue Your Education Via Your iPhone or iPad

Start by launching the App Store app on your iOS mobile device and downloading the free iTunes U app. Once the app is installed on your iPhone or iPad, launch it from the Home Screen. The iTunes U app begins by displaying a Library screen, which looks very similar to the iBooks or Newsstand app.

Tap on the Catalog icon that’s displayed in the upper-left corner of the app to explore the educational offerings available through iTunes U. To help narrow down your search, click on the Universities & Colleges, Beyond Campus, or K-12 banner that’s displayed near the top of the screen.

Tap on the Universities & Colleges banner to reveal the thousands of courses and lectures offered by hundreds of participating higher education institutions, which you can select by name. For example, after tapping on the Universities & Colleges banner, select one of the institutions that are listed, such as Harvard University. You can then browse through the individual courses offered by Harvard University by tapping on the Categories, Notable, or See All options.

For example, you can tap on Harvard University’s Intro to Computer Science class, which is a 12-week program that includes video-based lectures, printed lecture notes, videos, problem sets, and other materials that you can work your way through and study at your own pace.

Tap on the Beyond Campus banner to discover lectures and courses offered by art galleries, museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA (The Museum of Modern Arts), NASA, National Geographic, The New York Botanical Garden, The New York Public Library, Public Radio International, the Smithsonian Institution, UNESCO, and the Washington National Opera.

By tapping on the K-12 tab, you can access a vast selection of educational material from public and private schools throughout the country that covers virtually every subject currently being taught in elementary, middle, and high schools.

Instead of searching for content by educational institution, tap on the Features, Top Charts, or Categories icon that’s displayed near the bottom-center of the iTunes U Catalog screen. Just like when searching for content from iTunes or the App Store, the Featured icon reveals content that is recommended by Apple, including a listing of New Courses, and a selection of courses that Apple has placed within its What’s Hot category.

To display a listing of the most popular classes, lectures, and educational content currently available through iTunes U, tap on the Top Charts icon. Or, if you’re interested in a specific subject, click on the Categories option. Among the categories you can then search through include Business, Engineering, Fine Arts, Health & Medicine, History, Humanities, Language, Literature, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Society and Teaching & Education.

Tapping on any of these Category heading reveals a selection of sub-categories and subjects. Using the Search field that’s displayed near the upper-right corner of the iTunes U Catalog screen, enter a keyword or search phrase for the content you’re looking for. You can enter a subject matter, class title, the name of a school or professor, or any other phrase that will help you find the type of content that’s of interest to you.

If you woke up this morning with a newfound fascination with poetry, use the Search field to enter the keyword “poetry.” Doing this reveals at least eight full-length poetry courses, and more than 540 poetry-related lectures and resources. If you want to try your hand at writing poetry, tap on the Introduction to Poetry course, for example, that’s offered for free by Missouri State University.

Once you select a course or lecture, tap on its listing to reveal a more detailed description of what’s offered. Then, if it’s something you’d like to participate in or experience, tap on the Subscribe Free icon. Any textbooks or materials required for the course or program can be downloaded for free by tapping on the Materials tab within the course’s Description page.

Depending on the course, Materials will include text-based and interactive eBooks, videos, audio programs, PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes, and/or slide shows. The course syllabus will inform you when and how to utilize each of the required Materials.

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