Stanford iTunesU class adds interaction

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.]

Apple’s iTunesU (launched in 2007) made it easy for professors and teachers (K-12 as well as university) to share lectures with students and the general public.

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.

That changed this week.

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?

Author: Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, writer, teacher. Webmaster at King County Elections; educator at UW. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill, gplus.to/kegill, http://wiredpen.com

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