YouTube Rivals iTunes with Free University Lecture Downloads

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Think iTunes is the only place to get free downloads from universities? Think again. More and more universities have begun to post video lectures and other freebies on YouTube. One of these institutions is even offering college credit.
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Universities such as Stanford, MIT and UC Berkeley, among others, have been posting audio lectures, videos and other downloadable materials to iTunes for several years now. At first, they were meant to serve as supplementary education materials for enrolled students, but the free downloads quickly became something else: a free education for self-learners around the world.

Users of iTunes realized that they had unlimited free access to something that normally costs thousands of dollars. They embraced the idea of education on the go and downloaded a record number of audio and video podcasts from iTunesU in the last year.

This has led an increasing number of universities to begin using YouTube in a similar fashion. Stanford, Duke, Notre Dame, UC Berkley and dozens of other educational institutions are now utilizing the site as a repository for video lectures and university courses.

YouTube vs. iTunes

At one point, the biggest difference between YouTube and iTunes was the audience. People typically turned to iTunes to download video and audio to their portable devices. YouTube, on the other hand, attracted users who wanted to watch videos online.

But things changed recently when YouTube decided to go offline and provide select videos for download. This site is using Creative Commons Licenses to permit users to download and reuse content. YouTube has partnered with a number of different universities, including Stanford and Duke, to test downloads of free education videos.

YouTube U also received a boost recently when a computer science professor at an Australian University (UNSW in Sydney) decided to break ground with a new course that gives remote students college credit for watching his YouTube lectures.

What was significant about the UNSW set-up was that students chosen for this opportunity weren't charged tuition--each received a free education and college credit from the YouTube course, something iTunes has yet to offer.

If other universities make the move to follow in the steps of UNSW, YouTube could change the way schools educate and the way students earn a college degree.

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