Apple is updating iTunes U, the company's dedicated app for digital learning, with a bevy of new features all focused around the goal of making education better, especially on the iPad. Those new features, all coming to iTunes U in an update today, include homework hand-in, integrated PDF annotation, grade books, and one-to-one discussions.

  • Discussions enable teachers and students to connect so that everyone can contribute towards learning.
  • Homework hand-in includes the ability to timestamp deliveries, annotate PDFs with marks, and otherwise makes it easy to exchange term papers, book reports, essays, problem sets, and more.
  • Direct import for teaching materials and student work into iTunes U from Keynote, Pages, iMovie, Explain Everything, Stop Motion Studio, Book Creator, and more.
  • Grade Book integration, so teachers can track students work and even send push notifications as reminders.

One of the best things about Apple is how many people within the company are passionate about education, and what technology can do to facilitate it. And they're not only allowed to run with it, they're encouraged to.

These new features are the result of feedback from real teachers and students using iPads and iTunes U in real classrooms; they're what was asked for and, now, what's being delivered. And it still seems like it's only just the beginning.

iTunes U is free and the update should be available in the App Store today. If you're using iTunes U and iPads in the classroom, let me know what you think of the new update!