Apple to help “reinvent the curriculum” with new iTunes U

Apple (s aapl) SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue announced a revamp of iTunes U on Thursday, designed to help teachers create full online courses instead of just creating videos or lectures. The new iTunes U will have its own app, which is similar to iBooks.

Courses will appear on a bookshelf, as in iBooks, but teachers can add much more to courses, including a syllabus, office hours, topics of classes, notes and posted assignments. Students can click through assignments to automatically view the requisite chapter in an e-book, if it’s available in the iTunes library.

Videos can be streamed or downloaded directly to the iPad for later viewing, and courses can also contain audio, video, documents like PDFs, and even apps. Students can rate courses in the iTunes U store, just like they would books or software. Combined with custom-authored e-books created in iBooks Author, this looks like the ultimate tool for the truly hands-on professor. And unlike the initial iBooks textbooks, it’s specifically aimed at higher education.

Grades K-12 aren’t left out, however. Cue also revealed iTunes U will now be available for primary and secondary educators and students, as well. The service is available in 123 countries. The iTunes U app is available today in the App Store, for free, and is designed to work on both the iPad and iPhone.