My classmates are all over the world: USC iPodia!

Jose Hernandez Abroad, Industrial and Systems, Jose, Viterbi Class

From surfing and yoga, to improv, to ballroom dancing, USC has a lot of really cool classes. But one of my favorite classes this semester is one that is truly unique. It’s called iPodia!

What exactly is iPodia, you ask? Well, its a class at USC called Principles and Practices of Global Innovation, but that’s not all. It’s actually part of a global program called the Viterbi iPodia Alliance (ViP). My section of iPodia meets once a week, on Thursday’s from 7-9 PM. There are only about 12 USC students in the class. However, around a dozen world-renowned institutions have partnered with the engineering school at USC to create this program.

What this means is that when I walk into my classroom and sit down, there’s a giant screen at the front of the room displaying 5 or 6 other classrooms from all over the globe. Right now, we have class with Peking University in Beijing, China, KAIST in Daejeon, South Korea, the University of Patras, in Patras, Greece, Qatar University in Doha, Qatar, and the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia.

The goal of the whole program is to innovate education and establish a “classroom-without-borders”. So far, the structure of the course has been entirely different from any other class that I have been in. Here’s what I mean:

During our first Thursday night lecture, our professor, Prof. Stephen Lu, gave us a lecture on innovation and creating new markets, using the example of how the iPhone created a new market through it’s design and explaining why different generations of iPhones failed or succeeded. (This was particularly interesting because he’s been a consultant for Apple for years and have gotten to test out the different smartphone models himself). The lecture is more like an interactive discussion, and he welcomes questions and insights.

The next day, within 24 hours, Prof. Lu will post content slides online for us to review. We then give him feedback on the slides and answer a survey on what concepts we did and did not understand.

Based on this feedback, a system groups all iPodia students from all over the world into “cohorts”, where we discuss the material we did not understand with classmates from China, Korea, Australia, etc. The cool thing is that the system makes the groups based on the differences in our thinking, as opposed to the similarities. This allows us to share different perspectives and/or construct new ones based on our discussions.

We can then update or reverse our online feedback accordingly.

Then, before the next class, the professor examines our final online feedback and identifies what we want to learn about in terms of contextual understanding, and prepares materials accordingly.

Eventually, we will get grouped into innovation team projects, where we will apply what we learn to develop an idea for a product and demonstrate how cultural diversities can help inspire global innovation.

Finally, at the end of the semester, we get the chance to visit our classmates overseas, with whom we have been working with all semester, to continue our projects and meet in person.

I’m really excited for the possibility to travel to U. Patras, Greece this year for the Overseas visit and meet my classmates in person. The best thing about this class for me is to be able to meet amazing people from all corners of the world, while not leaving campus. It’s the best of both worlds, and the chance to travel after the class is a great incentive to put my best effort into the projects we create.

It’s great to be a part of an innovative and unique classroom, and it’s awesome to think that in the future, maybe all universities will follow suit and realize the importance of a global classroom.

Stay tuned for updates, and fight on!


About the Author

Jose is a junior studying ISE. Click above to find out more!

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