Posts Tagged ‘Norvig’

New Access to Knowledge Delivery for Everyone!

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Here’s a bold assertion – any person, anywhere in the world, who is seeking to learn computer science, and who has access to the internet need look no further than Udacity.com. Enrolling in a class will allow any person free college level education, taught by world-class professors using coursework comparable to that at America’s premier technical universities.

So named by combining ‘U’ for ‘University’ with ‘-dacity’ as the root of the word ‘audacious’, Udacity.com represents a revolution in how knowledge is being delivered.

Frustrated by the limitations of teaching a relative handful of elite students at a time, at exclusive schools like Stanford and MIT, pioneers like Sebastion Thrun are promising, and delivering disruptive innovation in education.

At a time when our traditional university system is showing its limitations in terms of limited access, declining funding, rising tuition and crushing student debt, the prospect of FREE, WORLD-CLASS education is supremely appealing.

The world needs this, and thanks to visionaries like Thrun and others (many from Silicon Valley) it is ready resource, available to one and all.

If it sounds like am a convert, I am guilty as charged. I’ve had the good fortune to discover this right at its inception, in April 2012, and I have already completed two classes – cs101 How to Build a Search Engine (an introduction to computer science using Python programming language) and cs212, The Design of Computer Programs. The latter class was taught by Dr Peter Norvig, who is not only director of research at Google, but he is a recognized world leader in the field of artificial intelligence.

One undeniable benefit of this approach is that each class, which is delivered online in video format, has its own student support forum. All students can interact, one another, the teaching assistants and the professor himself. In fact I have posted questions on the forum to which have been directly answered by Dr. Norvig. When is the last time you got direct interaction with a pioneer and leading authority in the field of artificial intelligence?

By completing a class student get, in addition to the knowledge received, a certificate that indicates a varying measure of mastery, but oddly enough, no grade. This tends to rattle some students who, by habit, think only in traditional terms of grade-based feedback. To think that way is to miss out on the beauty of the concept of Udacity.com; what good is a grade, in a class where every exam is ‘take-home’ and the main purpose is the acquisition of knowledge?

There is speculation that their business model will evolve to include paid-for certifications where exams are somehow monitored and results verified, but Udacity.com has pledged that all their courses will always be available for free. This suits my needs perfectly; I don’t need the grade, I need the knowledge, and the price is right!

To deal with the stresses of our current economic despair and to be sufficiently prepared for our individual and collective futures I believe each person has to become a better version of themselves in all ways. What Udacity.com has to offer to me fits perfectly with this belief and is part of my personal plan forward. I’d invite you to consider for yourself whether this, or something similar could help you become a better version of you. The next offering of classes starts on June 26th, 2012.