Digital communications technologies disrupt information industries. That’s Craigslist siphoning off newspaper classified ads. It’s Hulu helping 20 somethings cut the cord. It’s Pandora (or Spotify, if you wish) facilitating micro-radio stations.
One of the largest information industries in the country, higher ed, has had its hands full with state budget cuts; digital tech has not decimated the bottom line. (Yet.)
I can testify that faculty have been reluctant to provide lectures for download. I usually hear this question — “why would students come to class” — when the topic is raised. [I try not to roll my eyes.]
The platform has grown from a way to deliver lectures to a way to deliver courses. But this podcast-like format (yes, it can be enhanced; yes it works on the iPad) has been a traditional one-way communication; digital is the distribution platform.
Now available for registration on the iTunes platform is a Stanford class, “App Development for the iPhone and iPad,” which will allow, for the first time, interactive class discussions. The class’ lecture-only version is, to date, the most popular among Stanford’s many iTunes U offerings. Its souped-up, conversation-optimized counterpart will employ the course discussion infrastructure of Piazza, which Stanford has already been using as an online supplement to its in-person discussions. Students in the class — which will still be free to take — will get to interact with each other, asking questions and working through problems.
I’m ready to sign up. Are you?