The iTunes U desktop app has always provided students and non-students alike with access to lots of higher-education course materials, but it hasn't been accessible or very user friendly. The new iTunes U iPad app changes that, and is so completely chock-full of interesting college course material that it makes me want to be a full-time iTunes U student.
The app itself is extremely straightforward. Apple's Eddy Cue said it was built to look a lot like iBooks, and he wasn't lying: when you download a specific course or lecture it appears on your iTunes U mahogany bookshelf. The course sheet is laid out to look like a spiral notebook with dividers; along the right side there's an Info tab (with the course description), a Posts tab (with a description of the course materials), a Notes tab (where you can take notes), and a final Materials tab (with a bare-bones lists of videos, audio, and other files). It's simple to navigate, and within a few minutes of downloading the app I was browsing through Yale's "Autism and Related Disorders" course.
Even better is the sheer volume of courses you can tap into if you aren't a full-time student. I'm certainly not a current Harvard Law School student, but I've already downloaded a handful of lectures, which I plan to start watching as soon as I am done writing this post. See, I told you I'm preparing to be a full-time iTunes U student.