Udemy: Free Courses, Elite Colleges

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    Jan 28, 2012 5:12 AM GMT
    Educators who don't adapt will be left behind... but people who want to learn will be big winners.

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/27/company-unveils-line-free-online-courses-elite-college-faculty

    Udemy, a company that allows anyone to create and sell courses through its online platform, has announced a new area of its site, called The Faculty Project, devoted to courses by professors at a number of top institutions, such as Colgate, Duke University, Stanford University, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia, Dartmouth College and Vassar College. While Udemy is a for-profit enterprise, the Faculty Project courses will be free.

    The goal is to “elevate the brand,” according to Gagan Biyani, Udemy’s president and co-founder. The company says it has no immediate plans to monetize the Faculty Project, and would never do so without the input and permission of its faculty contributors.

    The inaugural Faculty Project courses include many humanities electives normally reserved for small classrooms of undergraduates. Among them: “Elixir: A History of Water and Humans,” “Select Classics in Russian Literature” and “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness.” Garland and the project’s other professorial recruits are developing, pro bono, mini-lecture-based versions of courses they offer on their home campuses. Udemy says it does not require the professors to relinquish ownership of the courses.

    There are no caps on course enrollment. “It could be 10 people, it could be 100, it could be 1,000,” says Ben Ho, the Vassar College economics professor who is teaching the course on water and humans. But as far as interactivity, Udemy’s Faculty Project is more akin to Yale Open Courses -- where users can watch lectures and consult syllabuses for free -- than to Udacity, the venture launched this week by a team of former Stanford academics, which aspires to administer quizzes and grade its anticipated droves of students, which may number in the tens or hundreds of thousands.
  • commoncoll

    Posts: 1222

    Jan 28, 2012 6:32 AM GMT
    The classes seem to be strictly theory based. But it's a move toward cheaper education. They are going to be like the TED talks+current online classes. Overall, rather useless for those majors not related to humanities.
  • Moonraker

    Posts: 110

    Jan 28, 2012 6:47 AM GMT
    I wonder what the accreditation process is like for them.
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    Jan 28, 2012 7:58 AM GMT
    commoncoll saidThe classes seem to be strictly theory based. But it's a move toward cheaper education. They are going to be like the TED talks+current online classes. Overall, rather useless for those majors not related to humanities.


    No we are seeing a full transformation of how skills like programming / coding / software engineering are being taught. These are professions that are (currently) in higher demand than there is supply for them. The incentives though for alternative certifications is rising:

    http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/beware-alternative-certification-is-coming/31369

    As college costs rise, however, people are asking: Aren’t there cheaper ways of certifying competence and skills to employers? Employers like the current system, because the huge (often over $100,000) cost of demonstrating competency is borne by the student, not by them. Employers seemingly have little incentive to look for alternative certification. That is why reformers like me cannot get employer organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to take alternative certification seriously. But if companies can find good employees with high-school diplomas who have demonstrated necessary skills and competency via some cheaper (to society) means, they might be able to hire workers more cheaply than before–paying wages that are high by high-school-graduate standards, but low relative to college-graduate norms. Employers can capture the huge savings of reduced certification costs. And students avoid huge debt, get four years more time in the labor force, and do not face the risks of not getting through college. Since millions of college grads have jobs which really do not use skills developed in college anyhow, alternative certification is more attractive than ever.
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    Jan 28, 2012 8:44 AM GMT
    ha I just found udemy.com through Facebook and signed up for - and took - a social media webinar. Was free and taught by a few guys from Google. I liked it.
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    Jan 31, 2012 7:38 AM GMT
    The numbers on some of these open courses is pretty astounding.

    http://engineering.stanford.edu/stanford-engineering-new-online-classes-hugely-popular-and-bursting-with-activity

    The three classes – Introduction to Databases, Machine Learning and Introduction to Artificial Intelligence – officially started on October 10. By then, however, the 66,000 students signed up for Computer Science Department Chair Jennifer Widom’s database class had collectively viewed 290,000 videos, taken 10,000 tests, asked 224 questions and offered over 2,000 replies.

    The 72,000 registered students in associate professor Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning class had watched more than 850,000 video clips and submitted some 50,000 quiz answers. And the artificial intelligence course, taught jointly by Stanford Research Professor of Computer Science and Google Fellow Sebastian Thrun and Google Director of Research Peter Norvig, had attracted an unprecedented 160,000 students from over 190 countries who were collectively querying the course database at more than 7,500 times a second.


    And apparently there's a prof leaving Stanford so that he can teach 500,000 students for free -

    http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/01/30/classrooms-with-500000-students/

    Sebastian Thrun, who co-taught the artificial-intelligence course to 160,000 students, is now leaving Stanford teaching in order to teach courses to 500,000 students for free. What an inspiring goal!

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    Feb 06, 2012 4:16 AM GMT
    Pretty groundbreaking if they can achieve recognition from employers - which some of these online certification sites are achieving.

    https://plus.google.com/107809899089663019971/posts/ipuBzuy5o9h

    Udacity to offer entire computer science curriculum and certification services so that an entire degree can be obtained online

    An email from the AI-Class team, announcing the new classes, stated the following:

    We are doing this with a new university: Udacity. In the next months, we will offer an entire computer science curriculum through Udacity, and offer certification services so that an entire degree can be obtained online.
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    Feb 10, 2012 11:17 PM GMT
    I actually started "auditing" a couple of the courses in iTunes U. You can't get all of the materials though, and if it's audio only, you can't see what's drawn on the chalkboard.

    It seems like a better model than what's going on at the junior colleges though. "Instructors" who may or may not know anything about the topic standing up and reading pre-canned lectures provided by the textbook companies. And giving pre-canned exams provided by the textbook companies. From books written cheaply by junior-college instructors who only know the topic from other similar textbooks. All paid for as part of your textbook price. And then you pay tuition on top of that... and property taxes to build the campus on top of that... for what?
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    Feb 13, 2012 4:16 AM GMT
    A prediction of the implications.

    http://articles.boston.com/2012-02-12/ideas/31049175_1_coffee-shop-student-debt-online-student

    Now, imagine a personnel manager at a mid-sized corporation who’s looking for an employee with some particular knowledge. There are two candidates: one with an appropriate college degree from the local state school, a second with relevant MITx certificates. Let’s say all other things between the candidates are equal. Which should the manager choose?

    Given the caliber of professor at MIT, the online student may have learned just as much. The candidate who went to college probably enjoyed his experience more, but the potential employer is unlikely to care about that. Finally, there’s the financial reality: To some extent, the student debt of the job candidate dictates his salary requirements. If the MITx candidate has the knowledge required and far less student debt, he probably can be hired more cheaply. Ultimately, the cheaper option will win.
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    Feb 14, 2012 12:03 AM GMT
    This is awesome; overall, colleges have been too focused on money, exams, and job-training rather than producing critical thinking students. If I had a dollar for everytime I heard a student say, "Why do we need to learn this?"... icon_mad.gif

    Anyway, I'll check this out, but I've been watching lectures online for several years now.