Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education News

More Stanford Computing Courses Go Free 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-your-learning-on dept.
mikejuk writes "Following on the recent Slashdot item on the availability of a free Stanford AI course there is news that two other Stanford Computer Science courses are also joining in this 'bold experiment in distributed education' in which students not only have access to lecture videos and other course materials but will actively participate by submitting assignments and getting regular feedback on their progress. The subjects are Machine Learning with Andrew Ng and Database with Jennifer Widom. This open approach looks as if it might be a success with well over 100,000 prospective students signing up to the AI course alone."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

More Stanford Computing Courses Go Free

Comments Filter:
  • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Sunday August 21, 2011 @03:07PM (#37162882)

    Online education is ok, but there's no substitute for being able to ask questions in realtime and address issues with an actual teacher.

    • by vlm (69642) on Sunday August 21, 2011 @03:12PM (#37162914)

      Online education is ok, but there's no substitute for being able to ask questions in realtime and address issues with an actual teacher.

      However, its good practice for post-graduation education, where you're lucky if you've got google and possibly an oreilly book.

    • by EliotVU (1957146)
      Who's gonna ask a teacher a question when there's Online education and Google? :P
    • Online education is ok, but there's no substitute for being able to ask questions in realtime and address issues with an actual teacher.

      This is a variation on what is happening in universities across the world. Many professors are recording their lectures. Rather than give the standard lecture during class time they make the recordings available to students. Students are told to watch the lectures on their own time and then class time is used for discussions, Q&A, etc. Personally I thought classes organized like this have been a good idea. Using class time for a professor to perform the same old lecture is a poor use of time. Face-to-fa

      • Students are told to watch the lectures on their own time and then class time is used for discussions, Q&A, etc. Personally I thought classes organized like this have been a good idea. Using class time for a professor to perform the same old lecture is a poor use of time. Face-to-face time should be for interaction, not one way communication.

        You know, good teachers have known for years that "lecturing" without interaction is pretty stupid. Yeah, when colleges have lecture classes with a thousand students in them, that's pretty stupid, too.

        The best approach is generally a hybrid -- lecturer presents material, and as he/she goes, he/she asks questions, poses problems, and gets students to participate in coming up with the material as it is presented.

        Most lecturers are poor teachers or lazy teachers (they generally don't get salary raises, pr

        • The thing is though, most professors really don't care about teaching, they care about research, and it makes sense. For example, if you have a passion for improving algorithms and really love researching them and have made great strides in the field and graduated near the top of your class for undergraduate work and got a PHd with no problem, you are going to get hired for a teaching job. Now, I don't know about you, but if I was that newly hired teacher I really wouldn't care all that much about the intro
          • I'm not sure we really disagree.

            The thing is though, most professors really don't care about teaching, they care about research, and it makes sense.

            In my post I admitted that colleges do not reward good teaching that much, nor do professional organizations. Obviously, if you offer jobs where people know that they are primarily interested in your ability to research, and those doing the hiring know that that's what kind of candidates they are looking for, who will get hired? Professors who don't care about teaching. Liberal arts schools that care about teaching more than research hire candidates who can teach, and they

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Not if you got to a good school. I remember during my undergraduate days, most of the faculty was clearly and obviously engaged in the process of teaching. Every once in a while you'd end up with somebody that shouldn't be teaching, but for the most part it was clear that they wanted to be there.

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Universities need to start hiring teachers based on their teaching abilities, a good teacher isn't always the best in their field and someone who is the best in their field isn't always the best teacher, especially since most of the time they don't even get to teach the class they have a passion for.

            A university is a research institution. It's also a teaching institution. Separate the teachers and researchers and what you have is no university anymore, but two institutions working in the same space, at whi

      • Oh, and by the way, the idea of students learning the "dry material" outside of class and then coming to class for interaction is not at all new.

        In the past, it was called "doing the reading."

        • Oh, and by the way, the idea of students learning the "dry material" outside of class and then coming to class for interaction is not at all new.

          In the past, it was called "doing the reading."

          I disagree, the lectures and readings are two different things. Very different for the good professors, not so much for the not-so-good. Textbooks do not always line up very well with what a professor may believe needs emphasis. In classes where we had recorded lectures we actually spent more time on the class. These recorded lectures were "additional" content, they did not replace normal readings nor classroom time.

          • I would never say that lectures are equivalent to readings. My analogy was that recorded lectures are fixed elements that students can view outside of class, just as readings are fixed elements. Neither is very interactive. Good teachers in the past relied on students to do the non-interactive stuff before class so they could have good interaction in class. It's the same whether that non-interactive material is in written, audio, video, or some other form.

            Now, whether such extra lectures are an effective

            • by drnb (2434720)
              Thanks for clarifying. IMHO having the lecture occur outside of class time and having more time for interaction seems to work. At my university interactions included everyone being called on to demonstrate basic understanding, then a followup question providing an opportunity to apply the knowledge. Debates among students were also encouraged. In grad school where I had many classes with the same people I definitely observed better preparation and outcomes compared to more traditional classes. I'm sure its
              • IMHO having the lecture occur outside of class time and having more time for interaction seems to work.

                I understand what you're saying, and it can make sense in some circumstances.

                The thing is, I find lecturing to be a rather time-inefficient way to present material, whether it is in class itself or prerecorded. Lectures that are too dense aren't effective, and even if you're viewing one that's recorded, it's tough to navigate. On the other hand, if you are an effective public speaker, you realize that the amount of material you can present effectively is very small indeed.

                When I have a class meeting t

                • Just to be clear, since I realized this was an assumption on my part which I didn't actually address directly -- I'm not a fan of lecturing at all, in class or otherwise. Face-to-face meetings should be interactive, and I absolutely agree with you on that point.
                • Thinking back to my study years - one thing stands out to me: the lecturers who loved teaching were good teachers, the others usually not. The good teachers who loved their subject saw even undergraduate classes as... well recruiting platforms. By sharing that passion they got the next generation of people who would be working in their labs and keeping their field going after they left.
                  Having done both arts and technical studies though - I must agree with the sentiment that arts courses tend to have the bes

          • by hedwards (940851)

            You're supposed to do the readings before class, and that's typically how instructors assign them so that you've got a basis for listening during the lecture.

            I'm using the term lecture somewhat loosely as you're really not supposed to be talking for more than about 10 minutes tops without some form of student engagement. Lecturing longer than that tends to be counterproductive and make it hard to follow. Also it probably means that you haven't divided the material up into reasonable size bites.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Rather than give the standard lecture during class time they make the recordings available to students. Students are told to watch the lectures on their own time and then class time is used for discussions

        I am curious about this approach, but I have strong reservations that it looks like a nice idea in pure form, and with sincere good will on all sides could work, but may also just fail as it smacks into hard reality. Only some small percentage of students have the self-discipline to actually review the material carefully, rigorously. Unless there are frequent and regular exams/tests to enforce a learning schedule (which is a lot of work for the instructor and those grading, and moots the "on their own tim

        • by drnb (2434720)

          Rather than give the standard lecture during class time they make the recordings available to students. Students are told to watch the lectures on their own time and then class time is used for discussions

          I am curious about this approach, but I have strong reservations that it looks like a nice idea in pure form, and with sincere good will on all sides could work, but may also just fail as it smacks into hard reality. Only some small percentage of students have the self-discipline to actually review the material carefully, rigorously. Unless there are frequent and regular exams/tests to enforce a learning schedule (which is a lot of work for the instructor and those grading, and moots the "on their own time" property) I suspect many will just do nothing most of the term and attempt to crib it all before the exam. It reminds me of efforts to relax assignment/coursework deadlines, and just let students hand material in whenever they want---it just doesn't work: most try to do everything at the end, fail miserably, and either end up doing badly in the course or begging for extensions.

          In classes that I have had where recorded lectures have been used the discussions during classroom time were pretty heavy with Q&A. A professor called on students with a basic question validating they got the concepts from the lecture, then the professor would follow up with a more advanced question to see if they could apply the concepts rather than merely repeat them back. I got the impression that students were actually more conscientious in their preparation with this format. Nearly everyone got cal

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Q&A of that sort tends to be a waste of time. Sure there should be some time for that during class, but really that's what office hours are for. If you're going to convene a class, there's much better ways of using the time. For instance meaningful discussion and group work.

            • by drnb (2434720)
              The Q&A during class time was primarily the professor asking students questions, asking students to demonstrate conceptual understanding and the ability to apply those concepts; and sparking debate among the students via these questions.
    • there's no substitute for being able to ask questions in realtime

      That would be awesome but my whole time in college I saw people do that very rarely. Usually teachers have to struggle to get any kind of response out of students.

      Some students are just shy and don't like to ask in front of others, others need to absorb the information a little before questions arise.

      I think rather than saying "there is no substitute" the model that an online forum can act as a substitute is a really good one. Not only the t

      • I think that a combination of in-person teaching and online resources are a great combination. To be truly useful; however, the online answers system should be moderated and commented on by the professor.

        Often, students learn best from other students (and from teaching their classmates) but misconceptions can arise. Letting those misconceptions remain visible but with the correct solution clearly indicated is a great teaching method.

        • Often, students learn best from other students (and from teaching their classmates) but misconceptions can arise. Letting those misconceptions remain visible but with the correct solution clearly indicated is a great teaching method.

          That is EXACTLY why I would love to see them use a StackOverflow based system for Q&A. You could see the slightly wrong answers along with the correct ones.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        This varies a great deal and unfortunately class size and the culture of the school greatly impact that. The schools I've been to were fairly small and were very focused on interactions between the students and the instructor and really between students. It's not typically something that just happens, it does have to be developed.

        That being said, it does happen somewhat naturally although not typically in an organized and coordinated fashion, that part needs help. As the K-12 system ditches the banking mode

      • by gr8dude (832945)

        Relying on forums won't be the same thing, because that adds latency to the process of communication. It won't be as efficient as an actual conversation in class. Yes, forums are interactive, but they don't provide as many "input channels" as an actual lecture, here's what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwysrzWAdBU [youtube.com] (why going to classes is a good idea).

        I think every teacher should first take their time to explain to their students that asking questions is a good thing and there is no need to worry a

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The 25,000 students online can answer any question better. The teacher will respond to any that rise to the top.
      Its a way better than class.

    • Online education is ok, but there's no substitute for being able to ask questions in realtime and address issues with an actual teacher.

      Then why not spend the Professor's time answering questions rather than regurgitating the same lecture over and over?

      • by hedwards (940851)

        If the professor is doing that, then the professor isn't very good at lecturing. Giving the same lecture over and over is indeed a waste of time. Some classes need more explanation on one point or a different emphasis on another. A good teacher will tell you that no two classes are alike, even if there are mostly the same students in both classes.

        That's not to say that having prerecorded lectures is a waste of time, there are plenty of reasons to do it, and ultimately it's great to provide them to the stude

    • I'd say that depends on whether or not the person can learn fine without that.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Online education is ok, but there's no substitute for being able to ask questions in realtime and address issues with an actual teacher.

      You mean during those lectures where there's like 300+ students in the room? Yes, the prof/teacher loves to stop to answer everyone's questions.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Easiest way to avoid that is to go to a small school or get those requirements out of the way at a community college.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    95 000 of the participants are AI.

  • Does that mean each of the 100 000 learn one little bit and colectivly they are clever and know AI.
  • Currently just under 30,000 signed up. Let's see what the Slashdot effect does.

    • Funny, as someone who is about to start working as a Statistician, all three courses add concrete value to my job - especially Machine Learning and Databases. Looking forward to the courses.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      When was the last time we actually /.ed something? It's embarrassing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That is, how many of those tens of thousands who have signed up have what it takes to complete the courses? Do they have the necessary background, determination and aptitude to do it? I think some may have bitten off more than they can chew. I wouldn't be surprised if more than 50% drop out eventually.

    • by iamhassi (659463)
      Shame you're AC because that's the real question, out of 100,000 students how many will pass the class? 1% maybe? And when they see a 99% failure rate will they continue to offer free online classes in the future?
      • (1) They don't have the resources to mark 100,000 students' assignments and provide progress reports for them. You could accuse Slashdot of occasionally formulating misleading summaries;

        (2) Signing up on a web site does not imply continued interest in a web site - marketroids everywhere fail to understand this. Filling in a form provided on a university web site is not like starting to attend that university;

        (3) In all top tier unis at undergraduate level, the challenge is getting in. Getting in requires yo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All those kids with the One Laptop Per Child computers will be up there learning CS and programming. Millions of programmers and computer scientists will be created. Now all those Third World countries wanting to modernize and enter the WTO so they can increase their standard of living, will have plenty of tech people to dump into the market. Supply and Demand being what is, you know what will happen.

    But it gets worse. As those countries compete in trying to be the next India, tech labor will go to zero. C

    • I knew, once they started printing books instead of commissioning scribes to copy them, that the end of a decent wage for educated folks would soon follow. How quickly we forget!
    • All those kids with the One Laptop Per Child computers will be up there learning CS and programming. Millions of programmers and computer scientists will be created.

      If only that were so!

      But it turns out not that many people actually WANT to program. Even if you teach them for free. Unthinkable for those of us that love it, yes, but that's how it is.

  • URLs for courses (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 21, 2011 @03:36PM (#37163048)

    Go to ml-class.org [ml-class.org] to sign up for the machine learning class, and db-class.org [db-class.org] for the databases class!

  • by QuatermassX (808146) on Sunday August 21, 2011 @04:41PM (#37163382) Homepage

    Learning and education. Highly contentious topics infused with politics and the corrupting influence of money sloshing around the system (e.g., textbooks, student loans, tuition fees).

    Humanity has passed knowledge on for millennia and what's required is a willing student and a knowledgeable, savvy, patient, rigorous teacher. What our American and British institutions of higher education really are trying to achieve is the ability to instruct the maximum quantity of people at the lowest possible cost with a reasonable degree of effectiveness as measured by testing scores/graduation rates.

    I think the open publishing of these courses and course materials is a wonderful thing that could possibly enhance mass literacy and allow curious people access to the finest knowledge pool in the world. It's what a global network should be about: to freely connect people thirsty for knowledge with all the information humanity has accumulated.

    After working on technology in higher education for 11 years, I sometimes think all we're doing is tinkering around the edges and using technology as a distraction from addressing the real challenges in educating humanity.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Work in high school and elementary and you would get a different view.

      There is another component here. Parents. Many want their kids to be 4.0 students (so they can get into good colleges and get grants). So you have parents hounding the lower level teachers into submission. Then you have a group of parents who use school as a babysitter. Another group who make their kids go just so they do not end up in jail and could care less about their kids.

      You are seeing the willing/semiwilling by the time they g

  • ...the Government of China is demanding that the courses also be offered for free in Mandarin.

  • Don't sign up casually. I've done the machine learning class on line. There is a lot of homework. Expect to spend at least 8 hours a week on the class. Also, the videos consist of Andrew Ng writing math on a chalkboard. An actual chalkboard. In a weird notation where indices are superscripts, rather than subscripts.

  • A great initiative it is indeed,
    but what about all of us that do not have consistent time to spend on a course even though we would love to follow it. even if that means not receiving the note from the teacher to say you passed this course in such and so way... still being allowed to take the exams for your own interest, I know for a fact that I don't have 8 hours a week for homework, but could sqeez out 3 maybe 4 if I push it (and of course there will be the occasional week-end 8 hour marathon run), these
  • This open approach looks as if it might be a success with well over 100,000 prospective students signing up to the AI course alone.

    Only someone who has never, ever, ever taught a class - much less an online class - would consider the enrollment of 100k students a "success". Personally, I call it an unmitigated catastrophe...

    (My awed congrats to any instructor/institution that survives such an onslaught, of course...)
  • As technology and human social evolution alter the trajectory of human society, new, unpredictable and interesting results will disrupt the obvious path of our development. Research suggests that an end to poverty and global access to modern education would in fact preclude the many problems facing the world today. The end of poverty and the access to modern education would impact population growth, the availability of health care and the prevention of pandemics and ending the likelihood of war, tribal conf

  • How does a teacher teach 100,000+ students in one class? At what point does the educator stop talking at the student, and listen to the students understanding?
  • I love Stanford to death :)
  • This is great news. really! But are there any courses on advanced mathematics too? Like on 'Category Theory' or 'non classical logics, e.g. Kripke semantics'. Any pointers?
  • A passing grade in the AI class is given to students who correctly deduce whether they are being graded by a human or an AI.

    Tenure is given on a similar basis: whether the students are submitting original work or plagiarizing off the internet.

    Expect the first tenured AI teachers to be announced shortly...

Dead? No excuse for laying off work.

Working...