An overview of the new iTunes U Course Manager works. This was news to me (emphasis mine):
The overall course design provides a nice bit of organization for a class, but you’re not going to run everything from within iTunes U. In particular, there’s no feedback from students, so you’re not going to use this for tests or grading. This is a one-way broadcast of information.
I’m not sure why, but I’d previously gotten the impression from Apple’s iTunes U page that it would support student submissions and progress tracking (e.g. seeing what the latest video each student has watched). It seems this isn’t the case at all, and it makes sense if Apple expects most courses to be publicly available (and hence not graded by the instructor), rather than targetted at individual classes.
I’m left more than a little disappointed by this realisation; consider my excitement over iTunes U greatly tempered now. With student tracking functionality, iTunes U could have been a great way for teachers everywhere to conduct their own “flipped classrooms” — it’d be like using Khan Academy’s coaching tools for instructors, but allowing teachers to consolidate their own videos and materials. I suppose the good news, though, is that innovation in this space is only just beginning, and there’s a lot more that will be done. (Anyone who takes this chance to say that “the education industry is ripe for disruption”, though, will be smacked on the head with a ruler.)