iTunes U. (for University) will be a partnership between Apple and schools for hosting and distributing audio and video lectures, podcasts, and vidcasts to their student bodies. Modeled after the Stanford on iTunes program, iTunes U. will be a free service and allow a school to create an environment for instructors to upload their audio and video podcasts for distribution to their student bodies.
It will likely incorporate some of what Apple has been calling Quicktime 2 RSS, a set of tools for recording a lecture and then encoding it for playback on a computer or an iPod.
iTunes U. is looking like a powerful way to expand how students get content. We're living in an increasingly digital world, we may as well embrace learning digitally, and it's good to see Apple take the lead in providing the tools, the hosting, and the technology to allow such a shift to happen. I'm definitely going to be lobbying for my employer (a university) to get involved in this program.
I've been complaining that Apple hasn't been as competitive as they should be in the Education market for some time. Perhaps this is a sign that the times are a-changing. Truly interesting.
If any TUAW readers have used the Stanford pilot program, we'd definitely be interested in your impression of the system.