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Georgia Tech and Udacity Partner for Online M.S. in Computer Science 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the holy-crap dept.
Georgia Tech and Udacity — the online courseware project led by Sebastian Thrun — have announced a plan to offer an accredited M.S. Computer Science program online. The two organizations are also working with AT&T. This is the first time a major university has made an actual degree available solely through the MOOC format. Getting a degree in this manner is going to be much cheaper than a traditional degree: "... students also will pay a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus master’s programs; total tuition for the program is initially expected to be below $7,000." U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have quickly become one of the most significant catalysts of innovation in higher education. As parents know all too well, America urgently needs new ideas about how to make higher education accessible and affordable. This new collaboration between Georgia Tech, AT&T and Udacity, and the application of the MOOC concept to advanced-degree programs, will further the national debate — pushing from conversations about technology to new models of instruction and new linkages between higher education and employers." Georgia Tech is looking at the big picture: "At present, around 160,000 master’s degrees are bestowed in the United States every year in computer science and related subject disciplines; the worldwide market is almost certainly much larger, perhaps even an order of magnitude larger."
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Georgia Tech and Udacity Partner for Online M.S. in Computer Science

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  • damn kids (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:21AM (#43730355)

    I actually had to go to school and meet people and have sex with girls. Now you can just do it from your mom's basement? you kids have it so much better these days,

    • by fazey (2806709)
      This is probably why the UN called for legalization of prostitution. These kids need to get laid somehow.
  • I have a suggestion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:22AM (#43730361)

    For all those Silicon Valley Tech companies that can't get "qualified" people, might I suggest they use their billions and pay for us unqualified Americans?

    It'll be a tax write-off and great PR - "We understand that there's a problem with STEM education in this country and we're going to help. We need qualified people, so we're going to be good corporate citizens."

    They won't do it though because they are all full of shit. There is no shortage and they'd rather of H1-Bs.

    They'd rather spend their money on lobbying Congress, legal fees for getting around laws, etc... than actually solving the "problem" - which doesn't exist, anyway.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Isn't that what this is? Enrollment is coming from AT&T & GT corporate affiliates and a lot of the funding is coming from AT&T.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @09:12AM (#43730751)

        Isn't that what this is? Enrollment is coming from AT&T & GT corporate affiliates and a lot of the funding is coming from AT&T.

        All they said was

        partly supported by a generous gift from AT&T,

        Define "generous". $100? $1,000, $10,000 $1,000,000? $Billion?

        And where is the money from Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, IBM, Oracle, and every other Silicon Valley company that's bitching about not being able to get "qualified" people?

        Why didn't THEY do this first? Stodgy old AT&T got in first?

        Why isn't this program free? And don't give me this BS that by charging money you'll get the "serious" students. Take a FREE class on Coursera sometime and you'll see how serious we are.

        Back in the days when Silicon Valley were true innovators - back when Hewlet Packard, Fairchild Semiconductor or those greats were paving the way to our modern economy with real innovation and brilliance, they never bitched about "we can't get qualified people! Waaaa!"

        Hell no! They wrote checks to the local universities and said, make us some engineers.

        Did they say, "We need people to hti the ground running!"

        Hell no. They took new grads, had them work under an old fart for a while (or they figured everything out for themselves for REALLY new stuff) and groomed.

        Today's Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are nothing but over-entitled posers who just want to suck everything they can out of us.

        • by BonThomme (239873)

          "Today's Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are nothing but over-entitled posers who just want to suck."

          TFTFY

        • Why isn't this program free? And don't give me this BS that by charging money you'll get the "serious" students.

          The issue with "free" is not about how serious the students are it is about how serious the accreditation of those students is. Frankly I would not give any worth to a degree based only on online tests and assignments taken remotely. There is no way to guarantee that the person taking the tests is the person that they say they are. To do this you need some physical verification i.e. the exam has to be held where someone can physically verify who is taking the exam and that they are following the exam rules

          • Are you under the mistaken impression that high-enrollment courses on campus always card students before they take an exam?

            • by Anonymous Coward

              They do. I've TA'd at Georgia Tech. The TA's proctor the exam and can recognize their own students. If the students TA is not available to ID the student, the other TA's do card the student before accepting the exam. You don't need to card them before the exam, you card them before you accept the exam. Only a few students will need to be carded, as most will be recognized.

            • Are you under the mistaken impression that high-enrollment courses on campus always card students before they take an exam?

              It is not a mistaken impression. I regularly teach such courses and I (and the TAs) card each and every student in both the midterm and final exams. If other institutes don't more fool them.

              • I applaud you, but surely you realize you're on the diligent end of the spectrum. Besides, that may tell you the person taking the exam is the right person, but it doesn't mean they didn't have someone else write their papers for them.

                Students who want to cheat will probably find a way. We should do what we can to minimize this, and ideally, eventually they'll get caught [wikipedia.org]. But throwing away a whole mode of instruction that's proven to be effective is not the right way to go about it.

        • by kjs3 (601225)

          Define "generous". $100? $1,000, $10,000 $1,000,000? $Billion?

          Let me Google that for you: $2m.

          Why didn't THEY do this first? Stodgy old AT&T got in first?

          Because AT&T has been providing "generously" to Georgia Tech for decades? Because West coast money tends to go to West coast schools like Stanford and Berkeley? This isn't a surprise around here.

          [Sad anti-SV screed deleted]

          Back in the day, when a Silicon Valley entrepreneur didn't like how the world worked or his place in it, did he take time out of numbly browsing the web to piteously vent his spleen on some meta-news site?

          Hell no. They start their own comp

    • by Required Snark (1702878) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:31AM (#43730431)
      Mod this up. H1-B visas are the new indentured servitude, which is why US corporations want an unlimited supply. The STEM shortage is bogus.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Companies say they don't prefer H1-B visas, but the fact of the matter is that you can get someone for an H1-B visa that gets the work done, and leaves. You don't have to give them raises, and if you do when they leave you hire someone new on an H1-B at the starting rate of the first worker, you won't have to match any 401k benefits because it is extremely unlikely they will be putting money into a 401k, and I am sure there are a few other monetary benefits to hiring H1-Bs.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:40AM (#43730491)

      They tried to hire you, dude. But for some reason you wouldn't take the generous $15,000-year/no-benefits package they offered, so they had to import Sanjay.

      • But...but...the law says they have to offer a locally competitive salary that-*snort* yeah, it was pretty much proven bullsh*t recently. Surprising that it took a leftist (hah) think-tank (haha) looking at economics (basic supply and demand) to realize that if the wages for STEMs have remained stagnant this past decade, there can't be a shortage. It's soooo blindingly obvious, yet apparently the legislature, which is being told to ram through that bill at top speed (did it go through, anyone?), needs a thin

        • by ranton (36917) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @10:08AM (#43731349)

          ... to realize that if the wages for STEMs have remained stagnant this past decade, there can't be a shortage. It's soooo blindingly obvious ...

          While I am not a fan of our H1B program, stagnant wages do not mean there is no a shortage. If there is a shortage of Doctors then the wages will go up because everyone wants to live forever. If there is a shortage of Lawyers then wages will go up because no one wants to be a pro se defendent. But if there is a shortage of IT workers then most companies just hold off on upgrading their old systems because they would have to pay too much.

          If we stopped the H1B program, wages for IT would certainly go up. But innovation and improvements in IT would go down because companies would have to be much more careful about where they spend their money. Foreign companies wouldn't have to worry about this, because they would still have access to cheap labor, and US companies would start falling behind (or at least lose some of their edge).

          So there is a shortage of IT workers. There is a shortage of IT workers that companies would be willing to pay. And that is a problem not only for these companies, as it would become a problem for the whole country if we turned off the spigot and lost our lead in tech to the rest of the world.

          I don't know what the real answer for this is, because as I said before I think our current system isn't a very good solution. But the solution, and even correct diagnosis of the problem, are not as "blindingly obvious" as you make it seem.

          • That's simplistic. If an industry colludes to either suppress wages or change laws to increase the labor pool (lowering certification and licensing standards or H-1Bs) wages won't reflect supply and demand trends. Remember that plane that went down from icing in New England 5 years or so ago? The copilot was making about $20K/year. This is in a time when Vietnam-era pilots are retiring, so the War Boom of skilled pilots is passing.

            In fact wages in IT seem to be worse in the industry considering what was

            • by ranton (36917)

              If an industry colludes to either suppress wages or change laws to increase the labor pool (lowering certification and licensing standards or H-1Bs) wages won't reflect supply and demand trends

              I completely agree with that. In fact, it was pretty much the entire point of my post. But the rest of my post was dealing with whether or not this is still a good thing for the country. If US companies had to deal with the supply and demand of only US IT workers, but the rest of the world was able to use the entire global supply and demand of IT workers, I think it would do great harm to our country.

              I understand that this is just my opinion, but I think it is a pretty reasonable one.

          • most companies just hold off on upgrading their old systems because they would have to pay too much.

            For most [competent] companies, the ROI of an IT system is much greater than the marginal difference in IT worker wages, or else they wouldn't be implementing them in the first place.

            • by ranton (36917)

              For most [competent] companies, the ROI of an IT system is much greater than the marginal difference in IT worker wages, or else they wouldn't be implementing them in the first place.

              Well if our country took your viewpoint, at least in 100 years the United States will be able to look back on a century of decline and find comfort knowing that the only reason we failed was because our companies weren't competent enough to make the correct decisions. [Sarcasm] That moral high ground is much more important than actually creating government policies that account for the human frailty and greed that actually go into many important corporate decisions. [/Sarcasm]

              • Well if our country took your viewpoint, at least in 100 years the United States will be able to look back on a century of decline and find comfort knowing that the only reason we failed was because our companies weren't competent enough to make the correct decisions.

                huh? H1B's are going to save the country?

                That moral high ground is much more important than actually creating government policies that account for the human frailty and greed that actually go into many important corporate decisions.

                So allow H1

                • by ranton (36917)

                  huh? H1B's are going to save the country?

                  While obviously this is just one factor in our country's success (along with education, handling entitlements, etc.), the Information Technology industry has been a major driver of our country's success for at least the last three decades. Failing to keep our lead in this industry would have disastrous effects on our economy, IMHO. And we cannot rely just on US talent if our corporations are going to compete with the rest of the world. We only have about 5% of the world's population, and probably less than

                  • if we fail to attract the world's best and brightest

                    We need to attract them on a permanent basis to make any lasting improvements, not on temporary H1B's. An H1B employer can apply for a green card for its H1B employees, but if their primary motivation is their low cost, then that's not the route they'll chose to go.

                    (because they would often stick with paper-based solutions).

                    If they persist on such pigheadedness, their more nimble (and smarter) competitors will gradually put them out of business. These be

          • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

            But if there is a shortage of IT workers then most companies just hold off on upgrading their old systems because they would have to pay too much.

            You're deliberately conflating the wealth creating profession of software development with the maintenance profession of information technology administration to hide the emptiness of your argument.

            And I'm wondering what an actual economist would say of your characterization. You've explicitly described the demand curve as elastic - raise the price, they buy fewe

            • by ranton (36917)

              But if there is a shortage of IT workers then most companies just hold off on upgrading their old systems because they would have to pay too much.

              You're deliberately conflating the wealth creating profession of software development with the maintenance profession of information technology administration to hide the emptiness of your argument.

              I said old systems, not old hardware. Companies hold onto old CRM and ERP systems, and plenty of other software systems because they don't want to pay for something better. Even more common, in my experience, is for companies to try and modify their business processes to match new software systems instead of doing the necessary customizations and integrations to make them work better. This is a major cause of a lack in user buy in and in just overall poor implementations.

              And I'm wondering what an actual economist would say of your characterization. You've explicitly described the demand curve as elastic - raise the price, they buy fewer programmers, lower the price, they buy more. But almost by definition, shortages are impossible in that situation without some kind of external restriction. They want more, more, more, but for some reason they're unwilling to pay the higher price such vociferous demand requires.

              I am not sure how anything you said

              • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

                Without some kind of external restriction, like the VISA system

                It's not an acronym.

                Now you're confusing the demand curve with the supply curve. The restrictions that cause shortages are almost always price controls, and there are no price controls, just people whining that the price is too damn high.

                Sure, your finite supply can be exhausted, but last time I checked, there are still tens of thousands of people of people who could be programmers who aren't, instead they are doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, CEO

        • needs a think-tank to tell them it's going in the wrong direction

          There's no "need" - they know exactly what the situation is, but the legislation is payback to corporate donors. It's plain and simple corruption - the think tanks only point out the obvious to be an inconvenience.

      • at least the new PPACA law will force them to offer benefits or pay the fine.

        That should hurt some of the staffing firms that as abuse IT works.

      • Yes, that's why most of the "Sanjay"s I see , drive around in BMWs, and Acuras, and Audis. Seriously try finding a single "Sanjay" imported in US, who works for those wages.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        They tried to hire you, dude. But for some reason you wouldn't take the generous $15,000-year/no-benefits package they offered, so they had to import Sanjay.

        seriously?? I know a lot of 'Sanjay's' earning 8-10 times that with less than 10 years of experience. oh! don't forgot to add benefits that most of America doesn't see like 401k, fully paid medical insurance, paid time-off and much more. And I am sure the housing boom in SF bay area is not due to $15,000 year salaries.

    • but IT needs more hands on classes / more of a apprenticeship system. As CS is not IT and at some schools CS missis the mark in giving you skills to do even coding work.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:27AM (#43730389) Journal
    It is all well and good when you want to learn something over the net. But if you start giving degrees over the net, the system will be gamed almost instantly. Already in traditional universities, there is cheating going on. There are people in India with advanced degrees willing to do your homework for you for ridiculously low prices. Now they will do your entire coursework for you on a turn key basis. Send in a cheque, and they do all the work and you get the degree.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Salgak1 (20136)
      That might get you TO an interview, but I very much doubt that your example of offshoring your own coursework will get you past the first technical interview. You simply cannot BS your way past demonstrating technical depth.

      CAVEAT: I got MY Masters in MIS entirely online. I also put 20+ hours a week into it for over two years to do so, on top of a full-time job. As always, reward is commensurate with effort expended.

      • I can tell you got your "degree" from an on line diploma mill because you make grand conclusions based on one personal anecdote. The online diploma might get some respect in the first year or two. Once the system gets gamed, and it attracts free loaders looking for easy degree, its value will plummet. You might not be called for an interview if your degree was from an on line diploma mill.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I can tell you got your "degree" from an on line diploma mill because you make grand conclusions based on one personal anecdote.

          Pot.. kettle.. black..

        • by Yebyen (59663)

          Have you looked at the courses at Udacity? They are more advanced topics than the ones discussed at my undergraduate computer science program, which admittedly can no longer be found in any of the Top Computer Science Ranking lists (wtf? last time I checked, Rochester Institute of Technology was ranked next to Carnegie Mellon for computer science undergrad); but back to Udacity, I have not taken their courses, but browsing the course catalog I got a strong impression that if they are anything like they ap

          • by AuMatar (183847)

            Having taken a few of them- they're a good overview, but they don't provide anywhere near the depth I expect of a college undergrad course, much less grad school. MITX is much better, and even coursera is better. The only "advantage" of udacity is celebrity teachers and a slightly better website.

          • ... , I have not taken their courses, but browsing the course catalog I got a strong impression that if they are anything like they appear on the surface, the coursework is rich and engaging.

            Take a look at the coursework before you make that judgement, especially if you are in a hiring position. I would consider this option for my MS in Comp Sci, you can't beat the price.

            I would suggest that you actually take a course before you make any judgement based on it. For the past year I have been experiencing a surprising trend where people who have never taken a MOOC, publicly laud them. I find this to be very irresponsible. In order to properly evaluate MOOCs we need opinions based on experience, not optimistic guesses. Please actually take one of these courses before you tell other people how great they are.

            • by Yebyen (59663)

              Hey, I was upfront about that. I only finished my BS degree in 2010 and it took me over 7 years, I'm in a lot of debt as a result and also not in a hurry to take any more courses, online or otherwise.

              I would really rather have someone else take the course, and come to me with questions for help. That's why I do that, I think I enjoyed my time as a lab assistant more than I actually enjoyed taking classes in college. I was renowned for my C and C++ expertise, solving pointer problems for folks who couldn'

      • But that is why they say they can't find any one as HR passes over people with real skills and all they get is the paper people. Who only have paper skills or are good at test cramming.

      • by Bios_Hakr (68586)

        That may apply in most cases. However, a degree is now acting as a barrier for entry to jobs people are fully qualified for.

        I have seen government contractors hired with a BS in Art History and a CCNA over candidates with HS diploma and a CCNP. It's happening more and more to those of us who just want to ride routers all day. We know the job and lack of a degree should be seen as a good thing. We aren't looking to replace our bosses. We don't want to become managers or team leads or any of that crap.

    • what about coursework in more of a lab setting then or an trade school / apprenticeship setting where it's a lot harder to cheat like that.

      But that is what you get with theroy based classes and filler classes like art history where whats the point to put more then the min when you spend most of time on the core classes.

    • Homework is one thing, but many online courses are moving to require proctored examinations (either in person at a testing center or using a webcam and screen monitor). So unless you can fake your photo and all of your personal info (which the online proctors use to verify your identity), you may actually have to demonstrate some kind of skill or knowledge.
    • There are plenty of worldwide services who proctor in-person exams for NBAr, medical, SAT, etc. This would require one in-person visit per course, and a fee.
  • I wonder whether Universities will eventually become administrative hubs for online courses, with on-site work mostly limited to research level students. On one hand this would be great for affordability, but on the other the brighter undergrads who would have picked up much more than the course from the research students will be limited to the syllabus
  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:37AM (#43730471)

    Does any reputable university even offer a BS in computer science at present? For a field you would think would be at the cutting edge, I've found in the past that there are very few (reputable, not some Devry shit), if any, CS degree programs online.

    • Florida State University, for one.

    • by jlf278 (1022347) on Wednesday May 15, 2013 @08:52AM (#43730581)
      It makes more sense to offer a Masters program online than a Bachelors. Masters programs stick strictly to one discipline and are often targeted toward working professionals who would not benefit from extracurricular activities, living on campus, having access to abundant campus resources, job placement services, etc. Offering a Bachelors degree online means you have to get the whole university represented for general education classes and some of the normal gen ed requirements (e.g. speech and communications class) might be impractical to replicate online.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      That is because online courses make it very easy to cheat.

      A simple work around, would be that all exams are given at some proctored location. So you take a test with folks taking exams for all kinds of other degrees and you can come in any time to take it. This means you really only need one such testing center per major city.

      Another factor is makes these degrees more available, which lessons their attractiveness to normal students. My university switched from quarters to semesters and retention went way up

    • by JLavezzo (161308)
    • Devry is not shit if any think just being part of the older collgle system is holding it back now if they you can say take a class in X skill from Devy and have it mean something that shows it will be nice. But right now for it to really mean some it has to be part of a 2-4 year plan with the full load of NON core classes as well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Devry is not shit if any think just being part of the older collgle system is holding it back now if they you can say take a class in X skill from Devy and have it mean something that shows it will be nice.

        This is just priceless.

        English motherfucker, do you speak it?

        DeVry and ITT are shitstains right up there with University of Phoenix.

      • 1) I hope English is not your native tongue. It's my second language as well, so I can sympathize if that is in fact the case. Otherwise, you may be making GP's point for him.
        2) My best friend attended DeVry. She did very well, but I can't say her education there really advanced her career. At all.
        3) I worked at DeVry briefly, as a tutor / teaching assistant (I forgot the exact name of the position, but it was unlike any I had ever seen in academia). I got to see the quality of instruction firsthand, and
      • "Devry is not shit if any think just being part of the older collgle system is holding it back now if they you can say take a class in X skill from Devy and have it mean something that shows it will be nice. But right now for it to really mean some it has to be part of a 2-4 year plan with the full load of NON core classes as well."

        Let me guess... a Devry graduate?

    • by TheSync (5291)

      UMUC [umuc.edu] BS CS. UMUC is the online/extension arm of the University of Maryland.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For those who wish to pursue the online MSCS, but who do not already have a BSCS, I wonder if this program will offer the requisite undergraduate CS classes.

    I have a BSEE and MSECE from Georgia Tech and wouldn't mind doing something like this if I could get the undergrad part online as well. It's a long drive from here to Atlanta.

    • I would rather they not offer requisite undergraduate classes, and simply allow anybody to enroll. If you're already good enough to be post-BS in CS, you'll keep up. If you aren't prepared or can't keep up otherwise, you fail.

      Enforced prerequisites are simply a cash draw; ostensibly they should only be recommendations to guide student decisions.

  • On a related note.
    I've read about 1/3-2/4 of Stevens.
    I would like to fill out my knowledge but don't want to read the book from front to back.
    Can anyone suggest a set of video lectures which will do this?

  • I listened to a MOOC talk by an enthusiastic state-school tenured professor last year. Then a a Univeristy of Phoenix professor in the audience arose and said they had been doing these online courses for years. They have some idea of what video and chatroom techniques work and dont work and all the cheating that goes on. The Couseras of the world are re-inventing the wheel this professor claimed. Although for-profit schools are dismissed for their fnancial sleaziness, they do have a point.And wehen the v
  • Recently I spent some time with Andrew Ng's Machine Learning course at Coursera. While it's well done,it's definitely not as challenging as a 400 level CS course at most good schools. To see the difference, take a look at Ng's Machine Learning @ Coursera [coursera.org] course, then his lectures from Machine Learning @ Stanford CS229 [youtube.com]
    .

    By comparison, the Coursera course is child's play.

    Yes, Udacity is not Coursera. Nonetheless, I think Georgia Tech has a lot of work ahead before their MOOC CS curriculum will be rea

  • The first human flight did not come from those who said it cannot be done.

    I, for one, am happy to see a new shoot springs from the ground. I do not know what it'll grow up to become but I hope it will be something amazing.

    The FAQ [gatech.edu] addresses many issues such as costs, grading, course duration and cheating. On cheating:

    How will you guarantee academic honesty?
    All exams are proctored using national proctoring standards. We have access to 4,500 physical proctoring facilities and are working with online

  • if the curricula is kept up-to-date.

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