by Claire J Rottenberg
Although iTunes is an excellent application for organizing music and video files, it is really much more than that. iTunes, in combination with the iTunes store, can be a great tool for learning. Using podcasts, iTunes U and audiobooks, you can broaden your knowledge on a vast array of topics, including politics, business and the arts. In this article, I describe some of the options available for using iTunes to extend your learning.
There are thousands of podcasts available on all sorts of topics, such as world events, computer technology and modern literature. Many of the podcasts are available for free directly through the iTunes store. For example, if you are interested in following the US 2008 elections, go to the iTunes store for the US and, using the store's power search feature, search for elections. You will find dozens of podcasts, including those from most of the major television networks. Once you find a podcast you like, you can subscribe to it and have episodes automatically downloaded to iTunes. No matter where you live, you can access and subscribe to podcasts from any iTunes store. Just select the store you want from the bottom of the iTunes store window and search for podcasts.
You can also find podcasts on many special interest websites or from podcast directories, such as Podcast Alley. To add these podcasts to iTunes, look for a special "Subscribe to iTunes" link. If no iTunes link is available, copy the podcast's link and add it manually to iTunes.
Once podcasts are downloaded to iTunes, you can listen to audio podcasts or view video podcasts directly in iTunes. You can even view video podcasts in full-screen or on a video capable iPod. Audio podcasts can be listened to on any iPod, including an iPod Shuffle.
Another great way to enhance your knowledge at no cost is to use the iTunes store's iTunes U feature. Many top universities, including Stanford, Vanderbilt, Yale, and UCLA-Berkeley, have added free content to iTunes U. You can download complete courses or lectures on a variety of topics, such as music, art, business, and technology. For example, I listened to a complete course on ‚ÄúPolitics and Music.‚Äù
To access iTunes U content, go to the iTunes store and click the iTunes U button on the left side of the window. A list of universities will appear and you can browse through the available offerings from any of the universities.
A third way to learn using iTunes is with audiobooks. Most audiobooks are not free from the iTunes store, but if you have an iTunes account, you can purchase audiobooks, such as popular novels or biographies. There are, however, other sources for acquiring audiobooks, including some free sources. For example, the Gutenberg Project has many classic novels, now in the public domain, available as audiobooks. You can download these audiobooks and then manually add them to iTunes.
As you can see, there are several ways you can use iTunes to advance your knowledge. Take a trip to the iTunes store today and find some podcasts, iTunes U courses or lectures or audiobooks and sit back and learn.
Claire J Rottenberg is the author of ebooks on Mac OS X 10.5, iPhoto '08, iTunes, and Mac OS X 10.4. More information on her books is available on the CJRTOOLS ebooks website (www.cjrtools.com/ebooks). Members of Apple user groups can receive a 25% discount on all purchases from CJRTOOLS ebooks through the Apple User Group Vendor Discount Program. This special discount offer is valid through November, 2008 and more information on the offer can be found on the Apple User Group Offers web page (homepage.mac.com/ugab/offers.html).