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UDACITY is Sebastian Thrun’s Online University

In the fall of 2011, Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig decided to offer their “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course at Stanford in an online delivery and free. Responding to an email invitation that went viral in the blogosphere, over 160,000 students registered to take the course, although many of them dropped their participation early. The course was not simple and required a dedication of at least several hours each week. Sebastian Thrun says over 23,000 completed the course, and the spectacular success of the course has inspired him to make online education a full time effort.

Stanford Professor Gives Up Teaching Position, Hopes to Reach 500,000 Students at Online Start-Up – [chronicle.com]

The Stanford University professor who taught an online artificial-intelligence course to more than 160,000 students has abandoned his teaching position to aim for an even bigger audience.

Sebastian Thrun, a research professor of computer science at Stanford, revealed today that he had given up his teaching role at the institution to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. He made the surprising announcement during a presentation at the Digital–Life–Design conference, in Munich, Germany. The development was first reported earlier today by Reuters.

Udacity and the future of online universities – [reuters.com]

The most exciting (but also, in a small way, slightly depressing) presentation at DLD this year came from Sebastian Thrun, of Stanford and Google. Or formerly of Stanford, anyway.

Thrun told the story of his Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class, which ran from October to December last year. It started as a way of putting his Stanford course online — he was going to teach the whole thing, for free, to anybody in the world who wanted it. With quizzes and grades and a final certificate, in parallel with the in-person course he was giving his Stanford undergrad students. He sent out one email to announce the class, and from that one email there was ultimately an enrollment of 160,000 students. Thrun scrambled to put together a website which could scale and support that enrollment, and succeeded spectacularly well.

UDACITY – [udacity.com]

We believe university-level education can be both high quality and low cost. Using the economics of the Internet, we’ve connected some of the greatest teachers to hundreds of thousands of students all over the world.

Homepage Sebastian Thrun – [robot.cc]

Welcome!
One of the most amazing things I’ve ever done in my life is to teach a class to 160,000 students. In the Fall of 2011, Peter Norvig and I decided to offer our class “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” to the world online, free of charge. We spent endless nights recording ourselves on video, and interacting with tens of thousands of students. Volunteer students translated some of our classes into over 40 languages; and in the end we graduated over 23,000 students from 190 countries. In fact, Peter and I taught more students AI, than all AI professors in the world combined. This one class had more educational impact than my entire career. Just watch this video.

Now that I have seen the true power of education, there is no turning back. It’s like a drug. I’ve just peeked through a window into an entire new world, and I am determined to help bring education to everyone out there.

Making universities obsolete – [matt-welsh.blogspot.com]

Sebastian Thrun recently announced that he was leaving Stanford to found a free, online university called Udacity. This is based on his experiences teaching the famous intro to AI class, for free, to 160,000 students online.

Is this just Education for the Twitter Generation? Or truly a revolution in how we deliver higher education? Will this ultimately render universities obsolete?

I want to ponder the failings of the conventional higher education model for a minute and see where this leads us, and consider whether something like Udacity is really the solution.

SEE ALSO:
AI course from Stanford – online, free

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This article cross-posted from HackingTheUniverse.com