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App of the Week: Learn on the Go With iTunes U

We’re always looking for ways to educate ourselves and increase our productivity. From Converting Blog Posts To Audio To Listen On The Go, to Converting Text To Audio With Vocalyze. With iTunes U, there is no converting to do. Just subscribe and go!

The free iTunes U app for iPhone, iPad and iPod, gives you access to courses from universities, schools, and other institutions. The more than 500,000 courses on thousands of subjects are free and come with course materials, including audio, video, books, documents & presentations, apps, and books. The app is also available for download on your Mac or PC.

After downloading the app, you can choose from a variety of categories including business, engineering, health, literature and social science. There’s a PowerPoint 2010 course under the business section which is probably best left in 2010 [See Ernie Svensons’s excellent piece on using the iPad and Keynote instead for presentations]. You can also see the current popular courses by clicking on “What’s Hot”. iPad and iPhone App Development (Fall 2011) from Stanford is not surprisingly, hot. So is Trigonometry. Think I’ll skip that.

You can browse by educational institution from the 92nd Street Y (I’ve been to a couple of terrific live programs here) and Khan Academy to New York Law School and Northeastern University. If your topic doesn’t come up, use the search function. I wanted check out writing courses and had to perform a search to find them. A few interesting options popped up and I subscribed. The course was added to my bookshelf, similar to the iPhone’s Newsstand app functionality.

Many of the courses come with materials, but frankly, we’re in front of screens or buried in books all day. And the beauty of this app is the ability to subscribe to favorite lectures and listen on the go – on the ride to work or at the gym.