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March Madness Apps and Website: A Modest Proposal
March 18, 2012 - 8:30pm

This weekend I plunked down my $3.99 to watch the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Four bucks buys you access to every game. Watch on the web, or download the Android or iOS app for your iPad or iPhone (or mix and match). All 67 games on every screen, for less than the cost of a Starbucks venti caramel macchiato.

The March Madness iOS app and streaming websites are marvels of social media goodness. Built in Twitter streams, integrated with hashtags for each team, enable social viewing and real time commenting. Share your every reaction to every game on Facebook or Twitter without leaving the app or the website. The interface is slick, the video is fast and high quality, and the experience is social and mobile. The NCAA was even considerate enough to provide a "boss" button that instantly pulls up a fake Outlook inbox and e-mail message, should you be so inclined to watch tournament at work.

What is totally missing in the March Madness website and apps are any content that would lead anyone to believe that the players are actually students. That the teams are affiliated (associated?) with institutions of higher learning. And this seems to me to be a lost opportunity.  

Permit me to indulge in an educational technology / NCAA big time basketball fantasizing:

  • What if the March Madness website/app was merged with the content from iTunesU and YouTube/EDU?
  • How about a link from each team took the viewer to a series of the top lecture recordings from the school's best professors?
  • Maybe the best players have online / app profiles that detail favorite classes and professors, which then links to syllabi, open course materials, and lectures from these beloved faculty?
  • Perhaps the website / app could contain links to the multimedia materials that each admissions office creates, such as virtual tours and interactive campus maps.
  • Or maybe links to interactive statistics for each school that profile the institution's class size, student/professor course ratio, average SAT/ACT score, and graduation rates.
  • How about even letting people who sign-up for the app also sign-up to take an online certificate course - a March Madness MOOC.  Artificial intelligence lessons at halftime.  

Is this asking too much?


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