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iTunes U & YouTube Edu Comparison

iTunes U has arguably been the core driver in making the use of podcasts for teaching and learning purposes hit the mainstream.

With over 800 content providers from 26 countries and available in almost 100, gaining a presence on iTunes U is now a ubiquitous item on many institutions strategic plans.

As a provider of media services, podcasting and video streaming, to a wide range of academic institutions, we are regularly included in discussions about the mechanics of organising an institutions presence on iTunes U. Aside from advising on infrastructure and content creation etc, one of the topics that come up is YouTube Edu.

With another option in the mix for publishing content, many institutions are faced with the decision of which platform to hang their hat on, so to speak.

While the level of awareness and understanding of iTunes U is quite high now, there seems to be some confusion about what YouTube Edu is all about and the criteria for access.

With this in mind, we thought that a short blog post that outlines the core features  for each would prove to be useful. Brian Kelly’s YouTube Edu post is also worth a read. Let me know if I have missed out anything or if you have any questions by leaving a comment below.

YouTube Edu

youtube 3

  • Collection of video content from universities and colleges.
  • Launched 2009
  • Includes content from over 300 institutions, spanning 10 countries and seven languages, including University of Cambridge, Yale, Stanford and MIT
  • At the time of writing, 18 UK based institutions are featured within YouTube Edu. These include; Open University, Imperial College London, Nottingham University and University College London
  • Contains over 65,000 videos
  • Offers auto-captioning feature which allows users to automatically transcribe lectures from English to other languages
  • Application criteria:
    • Only accepting qualifying two and four year degree granting institutions
    • Channel name should reflect the name of the institution
    • One channel per institution
    • Only academic content can be showcased. No promotional content allowed
    • Institution should have an active YouTube account with approximately 100 videos and 100K views to be considered for YouTube Edu account
    • A presence on YouTube Edu is free

iTunes U

iTunes U

  • Offers institutions the ability to showcase their digital media within a fully branded environment
  • Over 800 content providers from 26 countries and available in almost 100
  • Launched 2007
  • 18 UK institutions currently featured within iTunes U with many more due to launch soon
  • UK institutions include; Cambridge University, Open University, University of Nottingham and University of Edinburgh
  • Easily download content and view on any PC, Mac, iPod and MP3 device. Offers the ability to provide anytime anywhere learning (access offline when downloaded)
  • Easy to subscribe to whole series of lectures which proactively pushes content to students
  • Learning tool for students with disabilities – VoiceOver compatible
  • Public or internal access – ability to provide content to members of your educational community via an internal site (can use institutional password authentication)
  • Full branding capability using Apple’s built in template tools
  • Application process:
    • Stakeholder agreement across IT, Academic Staff, Legal and Marketing
    • Ability to create RSS feeds, compress files and manage storage & bandwidth
    • 150 pieces of content with an ongoing commitment to release content on an ongoing basis
    • Commitment to drive awareness and traffic to the iTunes U site
    • A presence on iTunes U is free

So what is the right option for your institution? Is one better than the other?

In many ways, iTunes U seems like the better option for many institutions. Content via iTunes U can be consumed both on the desktop and on mobile devices, which offers mobile learning opportunities. Furthermore, with the ability to develop internal private sites which can be closely integrated with the institutions VLE, such as Moodle, iTunes U becomes a tightly integrated component of an institutions teaching and learning delivery engine.

The exposure that an institution can receive via iTunes U also makes it a highly compelling tool for brand building and student acquisition purposes.

The obvious downsides about iTunes U, though, are that some students may be running operating systems such as Ubuntu which excludes them from accessing the platform. Complementary solutions for these students, therefore, need to be considered.

Alternatively, YouTube Edu is 100% browser based so is a more open and accessible option. Students would need to be online, though, to consume the content so the anytime anywhere learning potential is limited. Furthermore, as part of the Google portfolio, certain areas of the world, such as China where Google is banned, cannot access the site.

Being part of the Google portfolio, though, obviously has benefits from a search perspective. I would be almost certain that Google’s algorithms favour content within YouTube Edu, for example!

Ultimately, and as mentioned earlier, I would probably opt for the iTunes U option if I was going to only go for one over the other. That being said, though, with similar content requirements for both iTunesU and YouTube Edu, it may be beneficial to actually opt for both platforms. The best of both worlds is definitely a reality!

What do you think? iTunes U or YouTube Edu? Look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

posted by fote-conference on December 2, 2010

6 thoughts on “iTunes U & YouTube Edu Comparison”

  1. As I’ve noted many times in the past, if you have a strategy which includes the wide dissemination of digital media you should make use of as many channels of distribution as possible – especially making use of “free” ones like iTunes U and YouTube Edu. UCL makes use of both these and I wouldn’t necessarily pick one over the other. However I do believe that the iTunes U “anywhere” benefit to offline users remains a plus in the absence of ubiquitous wireless networking.

  2. tbush says:

    Great minds think alike Jeremy 🙂 With the anytime anywhere learning potential, I definitely think that iTunes U slightly beats YouTube Edu to the post. At the end of the day, though, if you have the content, why not share it with as many platforms as possible. Interesting times!

  3. Simon Wood says:

    Given that the institution is responsible for hosting the content that is presented through iTunesU (in the UK at least) it should be relatively easy to reuse it and provide alternatives to those outside the iTunes “ecosystem”. However this does mean that by the time your eligible for iTunesU you’re already providing the easily downloadable subcribable content, and iTunesU is just an additional channel for distributing and branding the content.

    Does YouTube Edu host the content?

  4. tbush says:

    Simon – yes, YouTube Edu does host your content (well a compressed version, anyway) which makes it an attractive option in some ways. I would definitely recommend having a local store of your content, though.

    1. Simon Wood says:

      Thanks tbush. I’d agree a backup is essential, and YouTube Edu hosting makes it an attractive option if you don’t have hosting facilities. However, if you’re already hosting your content (for iTunesU and other routes) then it would seem important to have some relatively simple (automatic?) workflow for getting the content onto YouTube Edu at the same time to make use of as many channels as possible.

  5. tbush says:

    Simon – yeah, I think the workflow angle is something that will definitely become more important as the use of iTunes U etc becomes more ingrained. We are probably a way off something that is not platform specific, such as Podcast Producer, though.

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