Standing: USC Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Anthony Bailey; Qatar University President Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad; USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos; iPodia Alliance Director and USC Viterbi Professor Stephen Lu. Signing: Qatar University Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Mazen O. Hasna and USC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Garrett.
USC welcomed Qatar University to the iPodia Alliance on March 7, 2014.
Qatar University is the cross-cultural learning platform’s tenth member, and the first in the Arab world.
“iPodia is a smart idea that enables cooperation across campuses and allows students to cooperate while maintaining their uniqueness," said Dr. Mazen Hasna, Vice President and Chief Academic Officer of Qatar University. “At Qatar University, we are developing our technology-enhanced learning strategy, and part of that strategy is to build partnerships in support of using the technology in enhancing student success.”
Launched in 2009, iPodia is a model for a “global classroom”, a platform for classroom across physical, institutional, and cultural boundaries. Students at universities worldwide attend the same class simultaneously through audio and video connections, taught by the same professors, study and comment on the same material online before the class begins, engage in peer-to-peer interaction in iPodia classrooms, work on collaborative projects in cross-campus teams and, sometimes, travel to classmates’ home campuses to complete class projects.
“The hallmark of iPodia pedagogy is inverted, interactive, and international learning in physical classrooms on local campuses,” said Professor Stephen Lu, director of the program.
Lu's current iPodia class, “Principles and Practices of Global Innovation,” brings together 116 students from the following 5 peer institutions worldwide: USC; Peking University in Beijing; Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea; Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel; and Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani in Hyderabad and Goa, India. In addition, Another two other iPodia courses are being offered this semester, one on “Compilers Design” (CSCI 565) and another on “Sustainability in the Built Environment” (CE 599), both of which are collaborations between USC and the Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo (EPUSP) in São Paulo, Brazil. Past iPodia courses have even united Chinese and Taiwanese students, who might otherwise never have taken such a joint course together.
“Students from countries that normally wouldn’t talk with each other are now studying and working together in iPodia classrooms," Lu said.
In Professor Lu’s class, students study assigned material a week before a class session, help each other answering questions in discussion boards and identify the hardest sections using online feedback, which allows the faculty member to adjust the emphasis during the class.
Current iPodia Alliance members include USC, Peking University in Beijing, China; Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea; Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel; Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani in Hyderabad and Goa, India; Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo (EPUSP) in São Paulo, Brazil; National Taiwan University; RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany; and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in Mumbai, India.
Then, during class, students ask and answer questions from their classrooms. But Lu also divides students into six-person groups (including students from each university) for more focused discussion. Ten percent of students' grades are based on how much they teach their peers.
“iPodia is developing new pedagogy to reinvent classrooms on campuses," Lu said. "And while many universities are globalizing by building classrooms across borders, iPodia is demonstrating a new globalization strategy to create classrooms without borders."
Qatar University hopes to participate in its first iPodia courses in Fall 2014. "We anticipate contributing to some computing courses on security, or energy, especially when it comes to natural gas processing, as well as courses in the humanities. Our unique program on Gulf Studies and Mass Communication will be of interest to many students in the alliance universities," Hasna said. Hasna recognizes iPodia's interdisciplinary potential. Soon QU's global humanities courses could be joined by classrooms exploring education and medicine, as well as engineering.
“First, we brought USC to the world, then we brought the world to us,” Lu said. Now, we want to bring the world together. With iPodia we can say to the world, “We have a global classroom. Let’s learn together."