USC Viterbi launches global teaching alliance
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has unveiled an international partnership that allows students from multiple countries across the world to simultaneously take the same class.
Known as the iPodia Alliance, the partnership creates a “classroom without borders” that enables students from partnered institutions to interactively take a common class and learn collaboratively from one another in a real-time video environment.
“USC prepares students to succeed in our global society by developing cutting-edge pedagogical technology, interdisciplinary curriculum and unique opportunities to engage with other students from around the world,” said Elizabeth Garrett, USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
“The iPodia Alliance, led by the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, reflects our commitment to training our undergraduates to flourish in an interconnected world by bringing them together with students overseas in a virtual classroom that encourages collaborative discussion and projects. The alliance also allows USC to play a leading role in promoting mutual understanding among nations by, for example, bringing into the same classroom the top students from along the Pacific Rim and involving universities from all continents,” Garrett said.
The alliance’s charter members include USC; Peking University (PKU) in Beijing, China; National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei, Taiwan; Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel; the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea; the RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany; and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in Mumbai, India. Additional university partners are also currently under consideration.
USC VIterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos described the iPodia Alliance as “a new paradigm that leverages communication technologies to provide a truly global educational opportunity to its member universities.”
Professor Stephen Lu, iPodia founder and program director, said: “The iPodia model demonstrates our belief that what students learn depends on with whom they learn, that context cannot be taught but is learned by students and that cultural diversity can inspire global innovation. With iPodia, USC students are now able to learn from the brightest global classmates, enabling not only a transfer of knowledge but also a mutual understanding across continents.”
The announcement comes as students at USC, PKU and NTU have completed the third year of Lu’s course “Principles and Practices of Global Innovation.” Consisting of 20 students from each university, the iPodia program model made it possible — for the first time — for Chinese and Taiwanese students to work directly with each other without crossing the Taiwan Strait.
Throughout each semester of the course, iPodia students enjoyed joint classroom instruction, shared coursework, connected through social media and participated in live discussion through synchronous video conferencing. The most recent class culminated with USC and PKU students joining classmates at the NTU campus in Taipei for three weeks at the end of the semester to complete and demonstrate their semester-long innovation projects.
Universities participating in the iPodia Alliance will collaborate on curriculum development and share course delivery across institutional and physical boundaries. iPodia courses focus on emerging socio-technical subjects of global importance that can benefit from the unique, borderless setting provided.
Learning together on different campuses, students can engage in interactive discussions, group exercises and team projects to develop contextual understanding of the subject and, ultimately, a mutual understanding across different cultures.