Apple's iTunes U is set to be updated to allow students to submit homework through the app, and for course materials to integrate external apps, greatly expanding the abilities of its education-focused platform. [Updated]
Students will be able to submit work such as term papers and book reports, Re/code indicated. In an attempt to keep people honest, each submission will generate a timestamp, recorded in a grade book accessible to teachers.
That same grade book will notify teachers when a student has finished their work and it's ready for scrutiny. If students are running out of time, they can be issued reminders.
The extra app support will let courses make use of both Apple apps and third-party offerings. Separately, Apple is also reportedly planning to implement new discussion options, potentially improving communication with teachers.
The last iTunes U update was released in January. Apple may be hoping to revitalize support for the iPad among educational institutions, which in some cases have deliberately skipped the tablet in favor of options like Chromebooks, which can be cheaper and/or easier for institutions to manage.
Update: The new version is now available for free from the App Store, and requires iOS 8.3. However, while it does include the promised homework, grade book, and discussion functions, there is no mention of external app support. Previously unreported additions include the ability to annotate PDF documents from within the app, and multiple file attachments for submissions.