NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Duke University will give Apple iPods to its incoming freshmen, with school officials saying the popular MP3 music players can be used for educational purposes as well as entertainment.
The school has set up a Web site modeled on Apple's iTunes music site that will allow students to download recorded lectures, audio books, language lessons and other course content.
The students can also use the site to purchase music, the North Carolina university said in a statement.
The iPods will also come preloaded with freshman orientation material and the academic calendar.
"We're approaching this as an experiment, one we hope will motivate our faculty and students to think creatively about using digital audio content and a mobile computing environment to advance educational goals in the same way that iPods and similar devices have had such a big impact on music distribution," Tracy Futhey, vice president for information technology at Duke, said in the statement.
"We think the power and flexibility of these devices offer some real advantages over other media used to distribute educational content such as CD-ROMs and DVDs."
The school said that the 1,650 iPods distributed to Duke freshmen are the latest-generation from Apple at 20 gigabytes and are compatible with both Mac and Windows systems.
The Apple site lists the retail price of that model iPod as $299.
Students who lose their iPods will be able to buy new ones through the Duke Computer Store. Upperclassmen enrolled in classes using iPods will be loaned the devices for the duration of the course.
The iPod has been a main growth engine for Apple, which last week reported quarterly net income more than tripled due to surging sales of the digital music players. Apple has also introduced an updated iPod, which retails for about $100 less than the originals and boasts an extended battery life.
Apple's iTunes online music service is the most popular legal download site, claiming 70 percent of all songs bought online.