$100 Grad Degree?
But why would you pay $100 for something that is obsolete? Tongue

Quote:George Anders
6/05/2012 @ 2:34PM
How Would You Like A Graduate Degree For $100?
This story appears in the June 25, 2012 issue of Forbes Magazine.

Ask Sebastian Thrun what makes him tick, and the inventor and Google Fellow ­offers up three favorite themes: big open problems, a desire to help people and “disrespect for authority.” Thrun, 45, has been aiming high—and annoying the old guard—for nearly two decades. As a college student in Germany he dashed off to conferences to present major papers on machine learning without getting his professor’s permission. Thrun made the cover of FORBES in 2006 with his talk of creating self-driving cars that could navigate traffic and follow directions without human guidance. As the founding head of Google’s advanced-research X Lab, Thrun helped turn those robocars into reality. After 200,000 miles of road tests his vehicles are safe enough for Nevada to approve them on public roads. California may follow suit.

Thrun has found a fresh challenge that excites him even more: fixing higher education. Conventional ­university teaching is way too costly, inefficient and ­ineffective to survive for long, he contends. He wants to ­foment a teaching revolution in which the world’s best instructors conduct highly interactive online classes that let them reach 100,000 students simultaneously and globally.

Financiers at Charles River Ventures have already pumped $5 million into Thrun’s online-ed startup, Udacity. “I like to back people who have disruptive ­personalities,” explains CRV partner George Zachary. “They create disruptive solutions.”

Udacity’s earliest course offerings have been free, and although Thrun eventually plans to charge something, he wants his tuition schedule to be shockingly low. Getting a master’s degree might cost just $100. After teaching his own artificial intelligence class at Stanford last year—and attracting 160,000 online signups—Thrun believes online formats can be far more effective than traditional classroom lectures. “So many people can be helped right now,” Thrun declares. “I see this as a mission.”

There’s a startup boom in online higher education, but nearly all of the players hope to advance by working within the system. EdX is a joint venture of Harvard and MIT. Coursera has backing from Stanford, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania. 2Tor, which has raised $90 million in venture capital, runs online graduate programs in business and nursing for the likes of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Georgetown. Such startups see benefits in teaming up with universities to ­decide what should be taught online, how to teach it and how to handle delicate issues such as grading, course credits, diplomas and anticheating safeguards.

Such careful collegiality is not the Thrun way. “It’s pretty obvious that degrees will go away,” Thrun says. “The idea of a degree is that you spend a fixed time right after high school to educate yourself for the rest of your career. But ­careers change so much over a lifetime now that this model isn’t valid anymore.”

So Udacity is charting its own path as a career academy for brainy people of all ages. Udacity’s offices are just a few hundred yards from Stanford, but they’re a world away from the school’s idyllic environs. Its open, barnlike work area has stained beige carpets, cheap desks and a Go board perched on a flimsy coffee table. Most of its 25 employees are video, graphics or software whizzes determined to make each second of online instruction as eye-catching and compelling as possible.

It currently offers 11 courses, for free, in subjects such as computer programming, statistics and mathematics, plus a robocar programmer’s workshop with Thrun himself. It rustles up some instructors from the likes of Rutgers and the state universities of Virginia and Utah. Other teachers are experts from industry. Faculty pay runs between $5,000 and $10,000 per course. Many of Udacity’s students are midcareer professionals who want to sharpen specific skills. Udacity later this year is expanding into the humanities. Thrun says the service will always have “a free path,” but the idea is eventually to charge for certificates or enhanced features such as chat.

It was only last year that Thrun seemed like a fast-track scholar thriving within academia. In eight years he rose from a Ph.D. student at the University of Bonn to a tenured post in Stanford’s computer science department (with a stint in between at Carnegie Mellon). “I was a popular professor,” Thrun says. “My teaching ratings were usually good. I could take complicated subjects and explain them in an entertaining way.”

Even so, professor Thrun privately knew something was wrong. In many of his classes students fared much worse on the midterm exams than he expected. He says he had fallen into the “lecturing trap,” in which the instructor looks brilliant and a handful of top-performing students create the appearance of a lively class—but most students aren’t keeping pace. Thrun needed a way to engage all students.

Down the road in Mountain View an obscure hedge fund analyst named Salman Khan was winning acclaim for his short math tutorials watched by millions on YouTube. At Stanford another computer science professor, Daphne Koller, was finding success by experimenting with ways to “flip” the classroom, covering lecture material as video homework while using scheduled class time to solve problems.

Thrun decided to apply new elements to a fall 2011 artificial intelligence class that he and Google research chief Peter Norvig cotaught at Stanford. They offered a free ­online version to the world, attracting 58,000 signups by August. After a burst of press coverage, enrollment tripled. Online dilettantes dropped out fast, but 23,000 committed learners finished the course. To Thrun’s delight many of them aced his exams. By Thrun’s tally he influenced more students through that single online course than he had in all his two decades of classroom teaching.

Thrun in January let the world know his full-time status at Stanford was over. The retreat evoked mixed feelings on campus. He had already surrendered tenure in March 2011 because his off-campus commitments (such as overseeing the Google Glass augmented reality program) claimed too many hours. Running Udacity is his main job now, though he has a 20% time commitment at Stanford as a research professor, guiding graduate students. He still works one day a week at Google, reporting to Sergey Brin.

Thrun lets his Udacity students know he is a Stanford professor, but he knows he can’t promote Udacity as a conduit to Stanford’s top professors. Doing his best to be diplomatic, Thrun in late May called his association with Stanford “fantastic.” Computer science department chair Jennifer Widom returned the courtesy, declaring herself “a big fan of Sebastian.” Still, tensions exist.

When Thrun started sketching out his online course in the summer of 2011, he briefly considered ways of offering some of Stanford’s cachet to the free online students. ­Stanford administrators shuddered. “We told Sebastian: ‘You really can’t do that,’” Widom recalled. So online students didn’t get a completion certificate with a Stanford ­insignia; they also didn’t get a sheet showing how their test scores compared with those of Stanford students.

Big-name universities are understandably loath to alter long-held procedures for course content, academic credit and faculty status. So be it, Thrun says. Udacity, still in its infancy, can write its own rulebook. Thrun’s philosophy of online teaching involves a nonstop barrage of online quizzes, one every two to five minutes, that become the centerpieces of each lesson. “You don’t lose weight by watching someone else exercise,” he says. “You don’t learn by watching someone else solve problems. It became clear to me that the only way to do online learning effectively is to have students solve problems.”

Sometimes a quiz will call for a quick calculation. Other times students must choose among options or create a line or two of computer code. Students’ entries can be automatically scored within seconds. A correct answer lets students move on right away; a faulty solution elicits an offer to try again.

Whimsy is a frequent visitor. In an introductory course on search engine techniques, instructor David Evans, a Virginia professor, explains network design by sketching a map of ancient Greece, with stylized little bonfires showing how primitive smoke signals helped spread the word that Agamemnon had returned from battle. Evans then asks ­students to identify ways that this long-ago network could be made to operate faster. Among the options: Zeus could increase the speed of light.

Thanks to a global boom in cheap, high-speed Internet connectivity, such courses can be beamed around the world for just 50 cents to $1 per student. That makes mass teaching much more affordable than it was a few years ago. Just as important, the rise of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks means that today’s students are comfortable forming multihour study groups with online acquaintances they’ve never met in the physical world.

Udacity’s engineers are learning which little things they need to get right. The company’s production studio carefully avoids full-body shots of professors lecturing; that makes for tiresome viewing. Instead, most footage consists of close-up shots of instructors writing out key lecture points on a digital tablet. Clever editing speeds up long words. When everything clicks, one instructor says, “it feels like a personal tutorial.”

Technique alone will carry Udacity only so far. Figuring out how to assess 100,000 people’s work in the humanities or social sciences will be a huge challenge. There, tough questions aren’t meant to elicit the same answer from everyone who knows the subject. Thrun has high hopes for peer-based grading, perhaps with a social-reputation score attached, so that classmates help identify their wisest peers. But such methods haven’t been tested yet.

Another roadblock: making sure that grade-obsessed students don’t cheat by swapping answers among friends or setting up lots of dummy accounts that they control. It’s an awkward secret of online education: People who crave an A can use multiple accounts to learn so much about course design that they can masquerade as geniuses when finally retaking the course under their own names.

Thrun’s decision to shake free of any direct ties to big-name universities could haunt him, too. Rival player Coursera is building up its course catalog faster, thanks to outspoken support from a variety of university presidents.

Still, Thrun likes his odds. “I love to throw myself into situations where I don’t understand everything yet,” he says. “That way I learn so much. Sometimes I fail, and sometimes I succeed. But the goal is to reemerge at the other end, doing something good.”
Instead of dreaming ever-technical and ever-futuristic solutions that never get widespread, it'd be enough to cut all the fat and dross from the university picture: varsity sport, lecture halls, real-estate racketeering and celebrity faculty.
If all universities could trim down to Athabasca size and consumption, it'd be great, instead of dreaming of the complete disappearance of academia as it is know, which is tantamount to dreaming of the disappearance of the global warming hydra and its cronies and profiteers.
A.A Mole University
B.A London Institute of Applied Research
B.Sc Millard Fillmore
M.A International Institute for Advanced Studies
Ph.D London Institute of Applied Research
Ph.D Millard Fillmore
Quote:In the year 2020 most Colleges and Universities no longer exist

Academia is no longer the gatekeeper for education.

Tuition is an obsolete concept.

Degrees are irrelevant.

What happened to education?


Quote:EPIC 2020 Prophesies the Death of Universities
Athens, Ohio (PRWEB) June 06, 2012

EPIC 2020, a ten-minute free movie, was released to the public today on the epic2020.org web site. EPIC 2020 presents a prophetic dramatization of the death of the traditional higher education system by the end of the decade. EPIC 2020 a creative commons property follows in the footsteps of EPIC 2014 that was released in 2004 and predicted the demise of the print newspaper industry. EPIC 2020 describes the technological forces that are intersecting with major industry forces to provide online courses by the best professors in the world supported by the best academic technology scaled to where a single professor can educate every student in the world in a given subject. EPIC 2020 identifies new business models that turn the current academic business model of tuition on its head as well as new concepts in defining and documenting skills that render degrees obsolete.

Recently released numbers from the federal government reveal that student debt in the United States now exceeds one trillion dollars, more than credit card debt or car loans. Only slightly more than half of students who start college will graduate within six years, with an average student debt of $25,000. The other half, who do not graduate, have less debt but no degree. Tuition at most universities is increasing at twice the rate of inflation. Higher education has not achieved any significant improvement in productivity in a hundred years. An educational consumer revolt is in the making.

Early in 2012 respected universities such as Stanford, MIT and Harvard have established new well-funded, independent operations to design, develop and deliver their courses online to the world for free. Educational content presentation is moving from a craft to a commodity model. Organizations such as the Khan Academy are creating content, exercise, and assessment systems that are unequaled by any traditional organization and all are provided for free and are infinitely scalable. Other organizations such as Mozilla are working with industry groups to create badges that require the demonstration of skills required for a specific position or job. Where degrees represent one point in time, accomplishment badges will document a life-long growth of skills and experience.

Two new business models have the potential to eliminate tuition as a concept by the end of the decade. An employment agency model, being pioneered by Udacity, a spin out from Stanford University represents the first model. Udacity currently offers free computer science courses on a worldwide basis through which they identify and connect the top 1% of the students in the world to the best companies in the world for a standard personnel recruiter fee. This approach will easily generate enough funding to educate the rest of the world for free. The second model represented by MITx and being pioneered by edX, a partnership of MIT and Harvard, provides courses with no prerequisites free to the world. Only after a student has demonstrated mastery of the course need they decide if they want to pay a modest fee for a certification. A fee as low as $100 when multiplied by 100,000 generates $10 million. EdX's goal is to educate a billion people.

EPIC 2020 was written and narrated by Bill Sams, a Commissioner on the eTech Ohio Commission and an Executive in Residence with the College of Business at Ohio University. Mr. Sams was an executive in semiconductor and software companies in Silicon Valley for 25 years and is an advocate of applying the concepts of Moore's Law* to education.

For additional information contact Bill Sams, samsw(at)ohio(dot)edu, 740-591-7158.

*Moore's Law refers to the prediction that computing hardware capability would double every two years, resulting in exponential growth.
Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University:

Quote:Udacity to Launch 5 New Courses, from Statistics to Physics. Shooting for Largest Online Class Ever
June 18th, 2012

This weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a gushing little profile on Sebastian Thrun. By now, you probably know his bio. Thrun helped invent the self-driving car at Google and taught artificial intelligence at Stanford, before ditching his tenured teaching position and launching Udacity, a new venture that offers MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to students everywhere.

Also this weekend, Thrun kicked off an effort to “break the student record for the largest online class ever taught” with his new class, Introduction to Statistics: Making Decisions Based on Data. It starts June 25, and above you can watch Thrun give a short (Hans Rosling-like) introduction to the class. The course is entirely free and open to students everywhere. Students will receive dynamic feedback along the way, and diligent students will get a certificate of completion at the end. So what’s stopping you? Certainly not money or geography. You can enroll right here.

Other courses starting on June 25 include:

Intro to Physics: Landmarks in Physics

Algorithms: Crunching Social Networks

Logic & Discrete Mathematics: Foundations of Computing

Software Testing: How to Make Software Fail
Quote:Traditional school is obsolete. It is a dead man walking. The knowledge which is available for free, or nearly free on the web is so large and abundant that for all practical purposes it might as well be infinite. For thousands of years knowledge was scarce, expensive and hoarded in a few geographically specified locations. In our lifetime, knowledge has gone from overly scarce to overly abundant. It has gone from expensive to nearly free. My friend Rich Karlgaard‘s cheap revolution is about to destroy the reigning higher education model. The new skill set is finding needles in haystacks using Boolean algebra; the old skill set was eating haystacks. The old emotional state was compliant credulity with students in the role of baby birds gulping predigested chunks of knowledge. The new emotional state must be critical thinking, filtering, and discernment. No longer “What do I have to learn to get a diploma?”, but now “How do I know what you are saying is true?” And “Can I get this same thing someplace else for free?”

Let's take two private providers of academic content: THE MODERN SCHOLAR and THE TEACHING COMPANY.
Sticking to the audio format, my experience tells me that the quality is never inferior to that of B&M universities and most often much better, mostly because the dross and fat has been skimmed.
Sure, not all scholars are equally brilliant and not all courses are equally useful, but what they shaved were not the dates or the bulk of the subject, but the frills of classroom dynamics, pecking orders, political claptrap etc...and of course varsity sports, concert halls, dorms etc.
Of course, every scholar makes his points not all of which everybody agrees with: that's freedom.
To cut the story short, while TTC is a bit expensive at retail price, TMS offers you individual courses comparable in all aspects to standard 3 credit courses for between 70 and 100$ retail, or between 25 and 33$ per credit.
Compare that with any university, even counting the extra services they offer you , ex advising, secretarial, libraries, evaluation...
Athabasca runs at CAN$ 327 for 1 credit for non canadians...
A.A Mole University
B.A London Institute of Applied Research
B.Sc Millard Fillmore
M.A International Institute for Advanced Studies
Ph.D London Institute of Applied Research
Ph.D Millard Fillmore
Quote:This weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a gushing little profile on Sebastian Thrun. ...Also this weekend, Thrun kicked off an effort to “break the student record for the largest online class ever taught” with his new class, Introduction to Statistics: Making Decisions Based on Data.

Wow! What realism! Rolleyes Thrun's stats class is just like every undergrad computer science class I ever had. The instructor is a foreigner who speaks barely comprehensible English and misspells words like "square" and "histogram" (twice). You would think a guy teaching stats might at least have the vocabulary down.
Quote:and "histogram" (twice).

That's what Chip caught when he was with Moe, right?
But it goes away with penicilline, right?

Quote:The instructor is a foreigner who speaks barely comprehensible English

Seriously, folks, who did you expect? Tyrone Power or Peter Cushing teaching you instead of Aneel or Farooq?
A.A Mole University
B.A London Institute of Applied Research
B.Sc Millard Fillmore
M.A International Institute for Advanced Studies
Ph.D London Institute of Applied Research
Ph.D Millard Fillmore
(06-28-2012, 12:17 AM)ham Wrote: That's what Chip caught when he was with Moe, right?
But it goes away with penicilline, right?

I've got the cure for what ails Chip right here:

[Image: demotivation.us_The-Cure-For-all-diseases.jpg]

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