Online education innovators should be wary


Article from The Daily Cougar:

Some professors at elite universities are trying to devise a more economical university model, and they are using the Internet to do it.

Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford professor, is an advocate of the online university and has ambitious goals: producing lectures and live, online discussions to thousands of students at a fraction of the cost, rewarding students for honed skills instead of “grades,” and eliminating the inefficiency of large campuses.

Thrun is now offering free, online courses on artificial intelligence to over 100,000 students around the world. These courses teach the same material for which Stanford students pay $ 50,000 per year. Thrun offers dynamic, live lectures that end in a “Statement of Accomplishment,” but not Stanford credit. However, the opportunity to learn from the man who led the team that built Google’s self-driving car is probably incentive enough to take his course.

The high cost of a college education unfortunately perpetuates immobility between social classes; students from higher socioeconomic classes have almost automatic access, while students from disadvantaged neighborhoods have a much harder time.

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