As I mentioned in my last post, there are some new arrangements for iTunes U courses, specifically the ability to distribute an "enrolment code" and have students sign up to the course in the iTunes U app using their Apple ID.
This seems like the obvious way to do things but in many school deployments, students are not in control of the Apple ID that their device uses. Sometimes that's because the devices are shared (in which case, using iTunes U is going to be difficult anyway) but more often it's because the school is in a country that doesn't have a Volume Purchase Program yet. That most countries still don't is another grumpy discussion for another time.
Anyway, at first glance it seems that you absolutely need individual Apple IDs to enrol students in a course now. I've always been keen on handing over as much IT autonomy to the student as possible, and that's where I think we should all be aiming, but changing your AppleID structures is a once-a-year thing to do and no small matter. Is there a workaround in the meantime?
It turns out that there is: to create a course that students can subscribe to without entering AppleID credentials, you have to:
Create the course in Course Manager - this creates a private course with an enrolment roster.
Submit the course to the person who controls your institution's iTunes U Public Site Manager
Have them 'hide' the course in PSM.
This creates a course which has a direct URL for subscription (it's referred to as the 'Audit URL' in iTunes U) but which does not require Apple ID credentials to subscribe to.
This isn't an ideal solution as it requires coordination between all the course authors at an institution and the person running the Public Site Manager. Still, it works for now and the future is ever more clearly heading towards individual Apple IDs for individual students. That's where I'm recommending all new 1:1s start their thinking but, still, always the two stumbling blocks of no Volume Purchase and COPPA's lower limit of 13-years-old for an iTunes account. I hope we can get these things ironed out soon.