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    The StratEDgy blog is intended to be a thoughtful hub for discussion about strategy and competition in higher education.

iTunes U’s New Addition: Features vs Benefits
June 24, 2012 - 10:19pm

When it comes to marketing messaging, people generally respond to benefits rather than features.

So while a feature of an alarm system might be remote activation, the benefit is peace of mind, and that is the message that motivates people to purchase the product.  That’s why benefits are touted in marketing messaging.

iTunes U just announced a new feature – a ‘social layer,’ according to a Forbes article from this week.

How are the benefits described?  First, students will be able to collaborate with each other as they move through the course.  Students will also benefit from getting their questions answered by both fellow students and teachers. Over all, it brings a level of engagement to the experience.

In some ways, this is perhaps a long-awaited piece to the iTunes U package, as referenced by a fellow IHE blogger six months ago.  The first course with these new benefits will be Stanford’s most popular iTunes U class: Coding Together: Apps for iPhone and iPad.  According to PCMag, Stanford worked with Piazza and Apple to provide this technology and, “On-campus Stanford students already use Piazza for collaboration, but now remote students can also join in the discussion.”

Collaboration on iTunes U seems like a very positive step, and one that is aligned with other online course providers aiming to introduce benefits to learners as other organizations increasingly enter the landscape.


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