Stanford’s iOS development course returns with peer-to-peer help

One of the first things I did upon getting an iPhone a couple of years ago was to fork over an additional $99 to the Apple Developer Program to get access to their developer tools—and the right to run my own apps on my own phone. I was very excited by this prospect because programming for the phone involved learning a lot: a whole new programming paradigm, touch-based UI design, a new programming language and a host of new APIs.

So, I started reading books and articles around the web on Objective-C and iPhone programming. It’s then that I stumbled upon CS193P, Stanford’s course on iOS application development. This course consisted of a series of detailed video lectures on iTunes U along with related notes and homework exercises. I followed this class through to its completion and learned a lot in the process. It even spawned my work on a computer algebra system for the iPhone.

This was my first experience with a complete course online, and it was fantastic.

This summer (from June 25 to August 27), Stanford again offers this wonderful course online. And this time, it comes with peer-to-peer support on a platform called Piazza.

In addition to having a mechanism to get their questions answered, I believe this addition will bring with it another huge benefit to students. Working through the course week by week alongside cohorts will encourage camaraderie and cooperation—something clearly observed in courses on Coursera and Udacity.

I personally find Piazza’s interface quite busy and generally unappealing, but I’m super excited by this development. Anything that makes learning advanced topics a less solitary experience is a great thing!