Monday, November 28, 2011

Possible Antidote to the Higher Education Bubble: Free Computer Classes at Stanford University

From I Programmer -- "Stanford University is offering the online world more of its undergraduate level courses. These free courses consist of You Tube videos with computer-marked quizzes and programming assignments.

The model is that courses are delivered as lecture videos, which are broken into small chunks some of which will contain integrated quiz questions. There will be approximately two hours worth of video content per week over 10 weeks.

There are no textbooks to buy, although there may be some recommended reading; and no tuition, although there will be forums for asking questions and receiving feedback and answers."

MP: As just one example, Stanford University Computer Science Lecturer Nick Parlante is offering an introductory course, Computer Science 101, worldwide for free starting in February 2012 (see introduction video above). Here's the course website.

Here's another report from I Programmer about Stanford's free computer classes. 


At 11/28/2011 10:18 PM, Blogger gadfly said...

Don't hold your breath. Originally, all California schooling was supposed to be tuition fee until Mexifornia ran into budget crunches. To get around the fee-free tuition, the state legislature enacted "enrollment" fees which are for, all intents and purposes, tuition fees.

At 11/29/2011 4:25 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

That's very good cause.It will help many people who don't have money.This is very helpful post.Thanks.
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At 11/29/2011 10:17 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Yes, I can now tell people at the holiday parties, I will be involved in Stanford coursework in 2012(Computer Science 101). Looks to be an interesting course and quite generous for a private school to offer.

At 11/29/2011 10:40 AM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

I would like to see a series of tests devised--for US history, economics, computer science chemistry, etc--that people could take and get scored upon.

Such tests would be given in monitored environment, and only with proper ID etc. In other words, no cheating.

It seems to me such tests should be able to inform both the tester and the tested that they have mastered a topic. A successful test-taker should be given the equivalent of a BA in a chosen field. This is akin to a state bar exam.

Although the time has come to simply de-license lawyers and open that trade up to free competition.

College is way too expensive.

At 11/29/2011 12:32 PM, Blogger AIG said...

For something to be a bubble, you'd have to show that its inflated beyond its real value. Simply showing that the price is increasing, isn't evidence of a "bubble"

Second, the problem with these online lectures etc, is that they probably have no way of decreasing cost of higher ed. The drivers of the higher costs are the more advanced grad-level work, the research etc.

The driver of costs is not undergrad 101 classes. The basic knowledge they offer is available anywhere for free, or at a community college for pennies on the dollar compared to university.

But if the driver of higher costs is the higher...value...delivered at the higher grad levels and research levels, then we are not looking at a bubble, nor at something which can be "deflated" with online content.

At 11/30/2011 1:37 AM, Blogger Stephen Purpura said...

As someone trained at the PhD level in computer science/machine learning, I can tell you that the Stanford Machine Learning class is excellent. I am personally taking the course to see whether to recommend it to others and I offer them feedback about the materials.

The course is actually a little too light for undergraduates going to work in the computer software industry, but it is *very effective* for teaching people the basics.

Again, I'm very, very impressed. I actually prefer this learning model because 15 minute lecture chunks are just about perfect and I can watch them at 1.5 speed and skip around. And I truly believe this teaching method can replace 95% to 99% of the many courses that I've taken in my academic history.

Again, the limitation is the socialization component. But that is actually easily solved with group meetings which could be held anywhere from a Starbucks to a Hacker Dojo.

At 11/30/2011 1:46 AM, Blogger Stephen Purpura said...


I'm not a big believer in certification tests. In most S&T fields, giving people practical problems that they need to work through in a take home test environment and then explain works much, much better for assessing their true skill.

Assessment tests were great when Google didn't exist. Now Google exists. Memorization is not important and the sophisticated studying and cheating mechanisms employed by today's student make test assessment of memorization a waste of time. The more relevant skills are analysis, synthesis, and ability to communicate results. This cannot be automated well yet but it doesn't cost a fortune to assess people either.




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