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Showing posts from January, 2012

Making universities obsolete

Sebastian Thrunrecently announced that he was leaving Stanford to found a free, online university called Udacity. This is based on his experiences teaching the famous intro to AI class, for free, to 160,000 students online.

Is this just Education for the Twitter Generation? Or truly a revolution in how we deliver higher education? Will this ultimately render universities obsolete?

I want to ponder the failings of the conventional higher education model for a minute and see where this leads us, and consider whether something like Udacity is really the solution.

Failure #1: Exclusivity.

In Sebatian's brilliant talk at DLD, he talks about being embarrassed that he was only able to teach a few tens of students at a time, and only to those who can afford $30,000 to attend Stanford. I estimate that I taught fewer than 500 students in total during my eight years on the faculty at Harvard. That's a pretty poor track record by any stretch.

It gets worse. I know plenty of faculty who lov…