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Courses are Apps, Colleges are Platforms
March 7, 2011 - 8:15pm

Courses are Apps, Colleges are Platforms.

Courses are like Apps Because:

  • Courses and apps are self-contained.
  • Courses and apps are experiences, not products.
  • As with apps, it is the quality of the courses that ultimately matters most in determining the quality of the platform (college).
  • Interactivity and the extent of immersion determine the quality of both.
  • Internal consistency and attention the user (student) experience are as important as the content in both.
  • Design for low cognitive load ("how do I navigate this course/app?") is important for both.
  • Courses are created by professors, apps are created by developers.
  • The design of courses and apps is a creative exercise.
  • Both courses and apps evolve.
  • The quality and popularity of both courses and apps probably follow a similar underlying distribution.

Colleges are like Platforms Because:

  • Courses make-up part of the ecosystem of the college, just as apps make up the ecosystem of the vertical delivery platform.
  • A college aggregates courses, a platform aggregates apps.
  • The brand of the college or the platform is a signifier of the quality of the course or the app.
  • A college aggregates the audience (students), like a platform aggregates an audience (iTunes has 200 million credit card accounts on file).
  • Colleges provides a bundled experience (living, learning, classrooms, technology, eating, support etc.), just as platforms combine discovery, payment and delivery (iTunes), with the device (iPad, iPhone etc.).
  • Buying the platform (or enrolling at the college) determines which apps (or courses) will be accessible.

What would you add?

How can this analogy help us think about designing better courses, or apps that are mirror or improve our courses? Is anyone closing the circle, and designing an app that is a course?

 

 

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