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Stanford partnering up with Piazza to add social layer to iTunes U course

Stanford University has teamed up with social learning startup Piazza for a first-of-its-kind iTunes U course that will be tied in with peer-to-peer social features.

The Palo Alto, Calif., university on Tuesday jointly announced in a press release the new interactive features for its free course, which is appropriately titled "Coding Together: Apps for iPhone and iPad." The course will run from June 25 to Aug 27, with registration available until July 6.

Integration of the Piazza social learning platform has already been tested by Stanford students, who took the course last fall, but this will be the first time that Piazza has been used on iTunes U. The social layer is designed to help students learn from each other, while course "captains" facilitate discussion and answer questions.

“Stanford’s experiment with iTunes U points the way toward an unprecedented expansion in the availability of not just content but active online learning around the world,” said Piazza founder and CEO Pooja Sankar.

The iTunes U course will not be graded or eligible for Stanford credit, but the first 1,000 registrants will have the apps they develop during the course's final project considered for "special mention" by Stanford.

TechCrunch reports that Piazza and Stanford "worked closely" with Apple to get a link to Piazza in iTunes U.

Stanford has been one of Apple's most faithful and successful partners for the iTunes U program. In April, the university revealed that its courses had passed the 50-million download mark. Earlier versions of the app development course have garnered 10 million downloads on their own. Stanford first began offering an iPhone app course on iTunes U in 2009.

Apple beefed up its iTunes U platform in January with a new app for the iPad that allows university students to view course materials, receive updates from their teachers and sign up for classes.