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Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 06:30 am PT (09:30 am ET)

Apple announces iTunes U downloads top 300 million

Downloads for Apple's iTunes U service exceeded 300 million in just over three years, making it one of the world's most popular online educational catalogs, Apple announced Tuesday.

The company said in a press release that over 800 universities throughout the world have active iTunes U sites, and nearly half of those distribute their content publicly through the iTunes Store.

"iTunes U makes it easy for people to discover and learn with content from many of the world's top institutions, said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet Services. "With such a wide selection of educational material, we're providing iTunes users with an incredible way to learn on their computer, iPhone, iPod or iPad."

New content was just added to iTunes U from universities in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and Singapore. iTunes users now have access to over 350,000 audio and video files from educational institutions around the world.

iTunes U was created in collaboration with colleges and universities, and aims to make it easy to extend learning, explore interests or learn more about a school. The service has a dedicated area within the iTunes Store.

The educational service offers users public access to content from world-class institutions such as Harvard, MIT, Cambridge, Oxford, University of Melbourne and Universite de Montreal. iTunes U gives anyone the chance to experience university courses, lab demonstrations, sports highlights, campus tours and special lectures.

All iTunes U content is free, and can be accessed by iTunes users on Mac or PC, or wirelessly downloaded through the mobile iTunes Store onto an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.