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Stanford’s Free, Online Course To Build iPhone & iPad Apps Goes Social With Piazza

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Creative Commons License Photo Credit: David via Compfight

Stanford University is offering a free, online video course on creating apps for the iPhone and iPad this summer. It uses videos from Paul Hegarty’s programming course and was wildly popular in years past with more than 10 million downloads of individual lecture videos from the 10-week course.

This time around Stanford says it will use a peer to peer social learning site called Piazza to foster more community in the online class setting. Students participating in the course can submit questions for instructors – called “course captains” – and fellow students to answer.

Brent Izutsu, Stanford’s program manager for iTunes U said the Piazza use will create better potential for students to collaborate with peers, solve problems as teams from around the globe and to build friendships while doing so.  Enrolled participants are expected to answer and ask questions. Course instructors steer discussions and direct students to the right answers.

When Stanford’s first iPhone apps course appeared online in 2009, it made iTunes U history by racking up 1 million downloads in just seven weeks.

This course is the first at Stanford and the first on iTunes to use Piazza and could be a boost for the firm. It “points the way toward an unprecedented expansion in the availability of not just content but active online learning around the world,” said Pooja Sankar, the founder and CEO of Piazza, said in a statement that Stanford released. She developed the idea for Piazza when she was a student at Stanford Graduate School of Business. It is now used in dozens of Stanford courses.

Hegarty’s class  of 74 students and teaching assistants at Stanford used Piazza last fall.  The group made more than 1,850 contributions to the class on Piazza. Participants made contributions around the clock. “Hegarty’s course material is amazingly clear,” said Kevin Shutzberg, a Stanford student, in a Stanford news release, “but iOS development is challenging and subtle. I commend students who download it and work through it on their own, but if my experience is any indication, they’ll have a much better time working with others.”

Like other free online courses offered by Stanford, there will be no grades or Stanford credits in this summer’s iOS course. Students are expected to hack for the joy of it. But there is another incentive. The first 1,000 to register may have their own apps – the final project of the course – evaluated for special showcasing on Stanford’s iTunes U site.

The course will run June 25 to Aug. 27. Registration opens June 19 and ends July 6. The videos can be viewed a la carte. But the professors suggest being part of the entire course to reap the full benefit.

 

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