Why offer a free online course?

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mkrajnak

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Nov 21, 2011, 12:32:31 PM11/21/11
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We've had several discussions in the vein of "Why are Norvig and Thrun doing this?".

Then last week I saw this:

http://cacm.acm.org/blogs/blog-cacm/101489-massive-scale-data-mining-for-education/fulltext

And then, as I was looking for the link to post to this forum I stumbled across this:

https://plus.google.com/108640673873589796416/posts/h66LGm83ZPB

Enjoy,

Mike

Grant Rettke

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Nov 21, 2011, 3:20:00 PM11/21/11
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So in the future we can expect that once we get into school we'll
classified as being a Learner of type 1 through 10?

Eg: Mike you are a Learner2, I am a Learner3 because we both learn
differently but across the 4 million students there are only 10
different kinds?

What if we don't fit?

M. Krajnak

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Nov 21, 2011, 5:22:06 PM11/21/11
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We already don't fit. Modern public education is already criticized
as teaching to the lowest common denominator. If data mining can help
us move from 1 model to 10 then I would hope that the MSME (Mean
Square Misfit Error) would decrease.

Actually I thought the article talked about 10's of thousands of
models for learning among 10's of millions of students.

What's not said and I assume is that the learning style of a student
may depend on the problem type and may change over time, so it won't
be a matter of finding the best model for Grant, but finding the best
model for for Grant for the problem and context at hand and continuing
to adapt it as Grant's learning style (and caffeine and sugar levels)
change. : )

Caleb Madrigal

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Dec 22, 2011, 12:41:00 AM12/22/11
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Maybe as a testing ground and to generate buzz for this Stanford's online education initiative (which does cost money):

http://scpd.stanford.edu/public/category/courseCategoryCertificateProfile.do?method=load&certificateId=1226717

M. Krajnak

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Dec 22, 2011, 9:58:37 AM12/22/11
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Whatever there reason, MIT seems to think its a good idea too:

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/mitx-education-initiative-1219.html

The classes will be free like Stanford, but they are planning on
charging "a small fee" for certificates.

Grant Rettke

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Dec 22, 2011, 10:23:19 AM12/22/11
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On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 8:58 AM, M. Krajnak <mdkr...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Whatever there reason, MIT seems to think its a good idea too:
>
> http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/mitx-education-initiative-1219.html
>
> The classes will be free like Stanford, but they are planning on
> charging "a small fee" for certificates.

A small fee is usually like $3USD.

Ryan

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Dec 22, 2011, 12:26:59 PM12/22/11
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The reason these schools offer free online learning materials is so that they can be leaders in the field of education. 

Professors from other schools copy their courses, use their books (which, in the case of MIT at least, are generally authored by MIT professors and printed from MIT press), etc. It also keeps their schools looking like the "best" schools, and associates their name with these learning materials. 

Also, the cost to publish the materials is basically nothing, since they'd essentially be publishing the same thing for the real students anyway. 

So, in essence, these schools can essentially "set the bar" by showing other schools exactly how they do it for some of their standard classes. Also note that the published classes are generally the "introductory" undergrad classes that can be found in any school's curriculum. Not always, but mostly. 

It is the educational equivalent of publishing an open source API, and and then developing several open source modules with that API. If the API is any good, then people will use it, and see your name all over it. Like what Google does with a lot of stuff. 

In any case, I'm sure the fee just covers the cost to print and ship something, and isn't the reason why they'd offer courses for free. 

Grant Rettke

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Dec 22, 2011, 7:33:09 PM12/22/11
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On Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 11:26 AM, Ryan <bovo...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The reason these schools offer free online learning materials is so that
> they can be leaders in the field of education.

It isn't teaching unless you are interacting with a teacher; sounds
more like leaders in releasing information.

Dave Colwell

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Dec 29, 2011, 11:16:04 AM12/29/11
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For me, the value of the class was having a structured and regular delivery of the content.  I've had access to the content in book form for over a year, but the threat of falling behind in homework or exams forced me to "make time."

Watching the lectures in 3 minute chunks is actually an improvement over watching a professor for 75 minutes.  Missing was the interaction with classmates, staff, and pondering of more complex assignments.  With 160,000 students, I'm not sure how to solve that problem. Our weekly meetings at GBC made up for much of that.  I read the forums, but didn't interact.

Anyway, my new iPhone just arrived via FedEx - I'm off to play...

Happy New Year!
Dave

Grant Rettke

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Dec 29, 2011, 1:07:51 PM12/29/11
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On Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 10:16 AM, Dave Colwell <dcol...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Watching the lectures in 3 minute chunks is actually an improvement over
> watching a professor for 75 minutes.  Missing was the interaction with
> classmates, staff, and pondering of more complex assignments.  With 160,000
> students, I'm not sure how to solve that problem. Our weekly meetings at GBC
> made up for much of that.  I read the forums, but didn't interact.

Indeed.

Working with a teacher who can really teach though makes tuition worth
the price.

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