Friday, 19 April 2013

MOOCs of Hazard: Will online education dampen the college experience? Yes. Will it be worth it? Well...

an article by Andrew Delbanco published in New Republic (29 April issue)

In the spring of 2011, Sebastian Thrun was having doubts about whether the classroom was really the right place to teach his course on artificial intelligence. Thrun, a computer-science professor at Stanford, had been inspired by Salman Khan, the founder of the online Khan Academy, whose videos and discussion groups have been used by millions to learn about everything from arithmetic to history.

And so that summer, Thrun announced he would offer his fall course on Stanford’s website for free.

He reorganised it into short segments rather than hour-long lectures, included problem sets and quizzes, and added a virtual office hour via Google Hangout. Enrolment jumped from 200 Stanford undergraduates to 160,000 students around the world (only 30 remained in the classroom).

A few months later, he founded an online for-profit company called Udacity; his course, along with many others, is now available to anyone with a fast Internet connection.

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