There's a story going around college campuses--whispered about over coffee in faculty lounges, held up with great fanfare in business-school sections, and debated nervously by chain-smoking teaching assistants, Fast Company reports.

It begins with a celebrated Stanford University academic who decides that he isn't doing enough to educate his students.

The Professor is a star, regularly packing 200 students into lecture halls, and yet he begins to feel empty. What are 200 students in an age when billions of people around the world are connected to the Internet?

So one day in 2011, he sits down in his living room with an inexpensive...

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