Apple has expanded its iTunes U scheme, which allows US colleges and universities to post audio and video educational content online using a content management system based on iTunes.

iTunes U enables colleges and universities to make audio and video content from lectures, interviews, audio books and more available to students online. Students can download the content to their Macs and PCs, or take it with them using the iPod.

The system has been set up to allow instructors to post and change content themselves, so iTunes U won't impact local IT staff. Students can also upload their own content to share with teachers and staff.

Apple's already tested the waters for iTunes U with pilot programs at Stanford, Duke, the University of Michigan and three other schools.

The University of Missouri offered podcasts of lectures through its school network before it signed up with Apple last summer as a pilot school.

The technology that powers iTunes U is based on what drives the iTunes Music Store - in fact, students can also connect to the store to purchase and download music.

Schools can customise their iTunes U with school colours, logos and photography.

Apple "is leveraging the ubiquity that we've established on campuses with iPods and iTunes," said Chris Bell, Apple's director of product marketing for iTunes.