Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The shape of things to come?

I haven’t posted about anything from The USA’s National Public Radio (npr) for some time now but one of their latest pieces really caught my eye this morning. It’s titled ‘From Silicon Valley: A New Approach To Education’ and, although it’s not exactly new, it should scare the beejesus out of higher education sectors everywhere.
Stanford University in the USA has been running an online course in ‘machine-learning’ – for free! Over a hundred thousand students enrolled and tens of thousands completed the course. They also did the same tests as the Stanford students and thousands passed.
What’s more Stanford, in co-operation with the Michigan, Penn (Pennsylvania) and Princeton, are planning to roll out more of these courses. Naturally, to be successful, they have to do more than teach computer science; so, to prove it can be done, next autumn they are going to offer a course in modern and contemporary American poetry - Wallace Stevens's 'Sunday Morning' , mmmm, sounds wonderful! Al Filreis, poetry prof from Penn University is going to be the person taking on the challenge.
And, you may be wondering why they are doing this: “By providing what is a truly high quality educational experience to so many students for free, I think we can really change many, many people’s lives,” says Daphne Kohler from Stanford.
And if you think this applies only to higher ed, you can think again. Take a look at, for instance, the Khan Academy, which offers free online tuition in a wide range of subjects.

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