Learn To Code, Earn Big Bucks In The App Economy
June 20, 2012

Learn To Code, Earn Big Bucks In The App Economy

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com

Earlier this year, Marco Arment, developer for popular iOS reading app Instapaper, sat down with NPR´s Planet Money to discuss the way Apple´s App store and others like it are transforming the Internet economy. When Apple opened up their App store in 2008, Marco decided to jump in and build an iPhone app for his then web-only service. 2 years later, he was able to quit his day job and focus solely on Instapaper. According to the NPR interview, Marco Arment now makes 6 figures a year doing nothing but selling his app.

“...You charge a small amount of money ... and that's it, you're done. You don't need to go seek venture capital money, you don't need to sell out your users' privacy,” Arment told Planet Money.

“They're not even your users, they're your customers – for the first time in a decade. It's great.”

Marco´s story isn´t unique. You likely recall the recent headlines about Facebook´s announcement to purchase another popular iOS app, Instagram, for $1 billion.

Yes, Mobile computing is the next frontier, and as people like Arment have shown us, there´s gold in them there hills.

Now, those who have always wanted to learn how to code or want to try their hand in the bustling App Economy have a new way to learn the geeky ins-and-outs.

Stanford University announced on Tuesday they will offer a free online video course teaching individuals how to create apps for the iPad and iPhone. Going one step further, these video courses will also feature a peer-to-peer social feature, enabling students to partner with one another as well as their course instructors. According to their press release, this will not only be the first time this peer-to-peer feature will be used in a Stanford Online course, it will also be the first of its kind in Apple´s iTunes U, which will host the course.

To implement their social features, Stanford will be using a technology the university says students are already familiar with: Piazza. Piazza is a social learning platform and has been tested on other online programming courses. Stanford says earlier versions of their 10-week apps courses were so popular in iTunes U, some individual lectures were downloaded more than 10 million times.

Stanford´s manager for iTunes U said in their statement, "There is an enormous potential for collaboration and community-building though Q&A and problem-solving with friends from across the globe,” thanks to the inclusion of Piazza.

All students of the iTunes U course are expected to participate and get involved, asking questions as well as answering them.

Likening it to their on-campus classes, Stanford says students of the class will be able to actively participate both as learners and teachers. Last fall, professor Paul Hegarty tested Piazza with 74 of his programming students and teaching assistants. All told, all participants in the class made more than 1,850 contributions in the class, making it a very interactive experience.

"Hegarty's course material is amazingly clear," said Kevin Shutzberg, a Stanford student, "but iOS development is challenging and subtle. I commend students who download it and work through it on their own, but if my experience is any indication, they'll have a much better time working with others."

As a free course, there will be no grades and no credit given, though the first 1,000 students to sign up will have the chance to have the apps they create showcased on Stanford´s own iTunes U site.

Classes start next week on June 25th and will run for 7 weeks, until August 27th. Registration opens today and will end on July 6.