Yesterday afternoon, I was spending some quality time with OeRBITAL, so I tried again. With the same result. Academically, iTunes U is a mess, with no useful filtering mechanisms. It's part of Apple's failure of social (Ping, anyone? I thought not) that the crowdsourced recommendations ("Noteworthy", Top Downloads") don't work with the granularity needed for an academic to find the best content for a particular course or subject. However, the iTunes U Power Search turns up lots of content. Unfortunately, that is when the problems begin rather than end. The quality of the material is highly variable. For the most part, it is recordings of public lectures, often with a large dose of marketing which makes most of it effectively unusable for educational purposes. Beyond that, almost none of the material on iTunes U carries any licensing information (MIT Open Courseware being the notable exception, but that's not great for biology), rendering it inoperable as an OER.
Whose fault is it?
Well it's not Apple's fault, they're just running a business (which isn't education). It is the fault of the academics and of the institutions they work for, greedily turning a potentially useful education tool into a marketing channel, and failing to add simple licensing information metadata (or better still, flag the licence status clearly on the iTunes channel). In some cases, this is a simple technical failure. In other cases, it is a result of the don't ask, don't tell approach through which academics have to publish such grey content - although that should not apply to iTunes U since these are institutional channels.
So much for iTunes U. At least I've still got Jorum to look forward to ;-)