Apple has just announced a significant milestone for iTunes U, as content on the “iTunes for education” platform has now passed a billion downloads.

iTunes U is designed to help distribute information to learners around the world, with institutions such as schools, universities, libraries and museums able to have a single home for all their digital content.

“It’s inspiring to see what educators and students of all types are doing with iTunes U,” says Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “With the incredible content offered on iTunes U, students can learn like never before―there are now iTunes U courses with more than 250,000 students enrolled in them, which is a phenomenal shift in the way we teach and learn.”

As we’ve noted before, more than 60 percent of iTunes U app downloads stem from outside the US, letting organizations share their content (lecture notes, academic papers and so on) with a worldwide audience.

We’ve previously reported that the UK’s distance-learning institution the Open University – which is clearly well-suited to iTunes U – and Stanford University (California) were top of the iTunes U tree in terms of content downloads. Indeed, the Open University was subsequently revealed as the top dog a while ago, passing 40 million downloads back in October 2011.

Well, Apple has now confirmed that both the Open University and Stanford have each now passed sixty million downloads each, which is pretty phenomenal.

Other universities that feature highly on iTunes U include Duke, Yale, Cambridge, MIT and Oxford, which have enrolled more than 100,000 students in single iTunes U courses.

In July last year, Apple announced that it was to allow teachers to create their own iTunes U courses for iPad. In practical terms, meaning that students were able to access this content on their tablet via the iTunes U app.

Educational institutions in 30 countries can now create iTunes U courses, though they can be accessed via the iTunes U app in 155 countries. In addition to specific learning materials, Apple also revealed that 75,000 educational apps are now available for iOS devices in its main App Store.

Feature Image Credit – Getty/Mario Tama