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    Default Free Education....from Stanford?

    About Coursera
    We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.

    Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.
    https://www.coursera.org/
    ----------------------------------
    This is pretty awesome. Free access to higher learning in everything from guitar playing to quantum mechanics. No pressure, no money, just sign up for what you want and get ready to learn. It's about time someone thought of this. I figure I'll probably brush up on my Python and learn a little bit about the market.

    What about you Playgrounders? Any interest in free higher education?
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    It is a really good idea. It will never replace a proper university education, but it is good to see people wanting to use the Internet for the good it can do. I plan to do:

    https://www.coursera.org/course/introastro
    then
    https://www.coursera.org/course/cosmo

    When I get some time.

    I work for a major UK university and am hoping they get involved at some point, as I think it is a really worthwhile thing to do.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by GnomeFighter View Post
    It is a really good idea. It will never replace a proper university education
    What are you talking about? If they include a way to do a formal/verified assessment and issue a degree at the end of it, it is a proper and recognised university education.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    There are a couple of these going on. I'm actually going to be involved with teaching a copyright course through edX this spring, which is run by Harvard, Berkeley, and MIT.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by GnomeFighter View Post
    It is a really good idea. It will never replace a proper university education, but it is good to see people wanting to use the Internet for the good it can do.
    See, as soon as I finish formal schooling, I will be expected to continue to accrue education to keep up with the current advances in my field. I can either get these through my employer, who will probably hold seminars on things, or through a local college, who will have a limited selection, or through my professional society, who typically holds these sorts of things in far off places (good for taking the wife on a vacation to, not so good on the pocketbook). If major universities start offering these sorts of classes online, even if they charge the same going rate as a university or a professional society to verify it, it becomes much, much easier to prove continual education. If you don't bother to verify it, it becomes both easier and cheaper.

    I would not recommend replacing current university education with this, but it is a very nice supplement to it.

    Edit: Looking in my field, I see 2 classes I have taken, 1 I am teaching as a TA, and a couple that look really, really interesting.
    Last edited by Rockphed; 2012-10-11 at 02:45 PM.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    I wish my school was a part of this. I love learning about stuff.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rawhide View Post
    What are you talking about? If they include a way to do a formal/verified assessment and issue a degree at the end of it, it is a proper and recognised university education.
    For some studies I would agree, but for any science degree I would say no unless it was mathematics. For chemistry and biology labs are essential to the learning process and to some degree physics. So for any soft science/humanities course it would be fine but for a hard science I would say that you shouldn't be able to earn a degree.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morbis Meh View Post
    For some studies I would agree, but for any science degree I would say no unless it was mathematics. For chemistry and biology labs are essential to the learning process and to some degree physics. So for any soft science/humanities course it would be fine but for a hard science I would say that you shouldn't be able to earn a degree.
    I think you could earn course credit though. Nothing wrong with a certificate saying you've studied multivariable calculus and theoretical quantum physics and passed the same exam given to the students at MIT. Then you could go take a couple labs at whatever university is geographically closest to you and complete the degree in a year or two instead of taking 4 years or more.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    I think you could earn course credit though. Nothing wrong with a certificate saying you've studied multivariable calculus and theoretical quantum physics and passed the same exam given to the students at MIT. Then you could go take a couple labs at whatever university is geographically closest to you and complete the degree in a year or two instead of taking 4 years or more.
    Your examples don't really argue against my point, you could legitimately take these course for a math/theoretical physic degree because it wouldn't require an actually lab. As for your suggestion regarding doing the courses first then taking said labs... most institutions wouldn't like that, labs are only set aside for people in the course and added people would throw numbers out and may prevent paying students from getting into the labs for their course. Secondly it is a bad idea to take all the courses then try to do the labs. First of all there is usually a reason for most schools limiting the number of labs/semester for a good reason: They eat up a lot of time and have as much course work as the course itself. Second it is often better and simpler to do the course and the lab at the same time so you can apply what you are learning about in the course to what you're doing in the lab. This wouldn't be a problem if you could do both at the same time; however, the problem comes back to the first point I made regarding institutions probably not allowing it unless of course the students pays for the entire course which makes this online course pointless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karoht View Post
    Benny Hill theme, firing terminal velocity zombies via portals, with your wife as backup.
    ... I'm pretty sure you win an internet. Maybe even two internets.

    I apologize for my absence, I am still adjusting to the chaos that is graduate school. Know that I am still alive and hopefully can find time to get back to posting.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    That's not what I was suggesting. I meant to say that most science degrees consist of a combination of theoretical and experimental courses. You could take all the theoretical stuff online and then, if other universities accept those courses, you could just take experimental courses (that include labs) and complete a degree in half the time. This might be very attractive for people who are already working, since it's way more realistic to get an employer to give you a year or two to study than to take off for a 4 year degree, and it would also help people who are trying to save costs or don't want to move far from home.
    Last edited by Anarion; 2012-10-11 at 03:53 PM.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    That's not what I was suggesting. I meant to say that most science degrees consist of a combination of theoretical and experimental courses. You could take all the theoretical stuff online and then, if other universities accept those courses, you could just take experimental courses (that include labs) and complete a degree in half the time. This might be very attractive for people who are already working, since it's way more realistic to get an employer to give you a year or two to study than to take off for a 4 year degree, and it would also help people who are trying to save costs or don't want to move far from home.
    I see, well that is a viable solution too bad this site doesn't have any chemistry course but that makes sense since every and I do mean every chem course I have been in requires a lab.
    Last edited by Morbis Meh; 2012-10-11 at 03:59 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karoht View Post
    Benny Hill theme, firing terminal velocity zombies via portals, with your wife as backup.
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    I apologize for my absence, I am still adjusting to the chaos that is graduate school. Know that I am still alive and hopefully can find time to get back to posting.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    I think it's a pretty cool idea. I've been interested in this stuff ever since I first heard about MIT's Open Courseware.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    So... who pays for it?

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Itunes has quite a bit of opencourseware , As well as many collages, I take alot of them as a hobby,
    But If you do not mind paying some coin, TTC The Teaching Company. Has some excellent ones.
    Most people Tend to take them for enrichment. As in all things you get out of it what you put in to it, You may not acquire a degree with open courses, But it is still a tool to add depth and scope to your reasoning.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    I have to wonder how they'd help with CLEP tests and the like for those young enough for them to be relevant.
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2012-10-11 at 04:43 PM.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    They can actually, I find open coursewere to be more useful as introduction material in the harder sciences and maths. But in regards to History, Lit, Psych,philosophy and theology. They can become quite in-depth.

    IF you are wishing to get into the harder sciences/maths ...Well they would be a good introduction. But still expect to spend significant amounts of your own time doing research. It is the same as you would in a regular school.

    Although in regards to maths, When I tutor I tend to recommend http://tutorial.math.lamar.edu/ They are well written and truthfully better than most of the text books I have seen.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morbis Meh View Post
    I see, well that is a viable solution too bad this site doesn't have any chemistry course but that makes sense since every and I do mean every chem course I have been in requires a lab.
    University of Oregon offers virtual chem labs.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    I'm a cynic about these things. First, the lecture is only one part of an educational process. Research, study, writing, small group sections, and laboratory work (in sciences course) are all important aspects that this will not address. In order to get the full benefit of a lecture, one should do preparatory reading and take notes for review. My hunch is that most people will watch for entertainment reasons. For classes in which learning the information is important (such as science courses) lecture alone won't be sufficient for most people.

    Second, liberal arts classes are designed not necessarily to teach you the subject but rather how to think critically and write. With little feedback or small group sessions, on-line learning is not going to accomplish this. An employer doesn't care if you know 16th century English history; instead, they want you to be able to learn how to perform your job quickly.

    Third, an elite college education is, in many ways, simply a credential that demostrates your intelligence. A history major from Harvard may get hired by an investment bank because she has a credential that demostrates she is highly intelligent. Her knowledge in history is irrelevant to her hire. Someone who watches free, on-line lectures of a Harvard history class is not getting the all-important credential.

    Finally, professors at elite colleges are not necessarily excellent teachers. Publication quality is more important than teaching ability in hiring and tenure decisions. There are professors at medicore colleges and community colleges who are better teachers than those at the elite colleges. So, a Stanford introductory chemistry lecture may be inferior to a community college introductory chemistry lecture.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Knowing 16th century English history may not impress a prospective employer, but if you are taking 16th century English history to impress a prospective employer you are doing it wrong. An elite college education isn't about employment ability in most cases. I don't study political philosophy to get a job, I study it to better myself. I may take a lot of accounting classes on the side so I can get a CPA, and thus a job. Many classes aren't a means to an end, but an end in themselves.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morbis Meh View Post
    For some studies I would agree, but for any science degree I would say no unless it was mathematics. For chemistry and biology labs are essential to the learning process and to some degree physics. So for any soft science/humanities course it would be fine but for a hard science I would say that you shouldn't be able to earn a degree.
    They already have degrees that are offered 100% by distance. If you can get assessed in the same way, this is absolutely no different. This is merely distance education, nothing more, nothing less.

    You can't teach, say, surgery via distance with today's technology (but to say never would be pushing it), but there are many degrees that can be delivered/completed entirely by distance, and they are no different from "a proper university education", because they are a proper university education.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    While I don't have much to add to the current debate, I have signed up for this and signed up for two courses so far!

    So many more I want to do, but not sure what sort of work load I can handle.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Degree and Education are two very different things, Although We do tend to hope they have alot in common.

    Courses such as these tend to be for personal enrichment. I tend to take alot of them to pass the time and Although studying 16th century history may not land me a job, Having read De Principatibus and Listened to a few lectures on it from several courses, Kinda gives me a feel for world events up to that time (Although the prince is a history lesson onto its self if you look at it with an eye for history). Having also read the Five rings and some psych has given me a new perspective on office politics and the such. Does it land me a job, Meh not so much But education if you invest into it (And yes that means actually doing something resembling a course load of work) Tends to pay off in indirect ways. And quite frankly Half of my best campaigns have been based on real world history to some extent.
    Although If someone finds a good Russian history for world war two, Let me know.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    A lot of this is still in its infant stages. The copyright course I'm involved with for the spring, for example, is going to involve small group meetings weekly, likely over Skype or similar technology. As such, it's still going to be free, but is also planning to divide up the class into smaller groups and possibly cap enrollment if interest exceeds the number of teaching assistants. But, it's also planning to offer you a certificate saying that you did the exact same thing and passed the same exam as students studying copyright at Harvard Law School.

    So, there is at least some hope from the planners that it will actually reflect on the course-takers' capabilities in a positive light and provide more than just personal enrichment.
    Last edited by Anarion; 2012-10-12 at 07:43 PM.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morbis Meh View Post
    I see, well that is a viable solution too bad this site doesn't have any chemistry course but that makes sense since every and I do mean every chem course I have been in requires a lab.
    You can't study chemistry without blowing **** up.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
    You can't study chemistry without blowing **** up.
    That's the point Hence why this would not work for obtaining a degree in chemistry or biology... As for the virtual lab that doesn't really make much sense to me. The point of a lab is doing the actual work to obtain the skills necessary to function in that field. How is one supposed to complete a lab or experiment without proper access to materials and equipment. Not just anyone can buy, not to mention afford, some of the chemicals. Even if you had the money if someone not associated with a post secondary institution even tried to purchase a rotary evaporator (this is necessary for organic chem) they would automatically get a red flag and the government would more than likely start knocking on your door (Rotovaps are used commonly in high end meth labs so it's a reasonable precaution)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karoht View Post
    Benny Hill theme, firing terminal velocity zombies via portals, with your wife as backup.
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    I apologize for my absence, I am still adjusting to the chaos that is graduate school. Know that I am still alive and hopefully can find time to get back to posting.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    One possibility here would be for these courses to partner with labs. That's obviously not viable everywhere, but most big cities have some chem and physics labs running around, which would be enough for basics like mixing chemicals and mucking around with electric circuits and lasers. I wonder if this is something that corporations would be willing to do as a sort of charity, essentially providing educational facilities in partnership with distance education to allow people to get a free education?

    That idea only helps people that live near enough to a big city to make the commute viable, but there are universities and corporations around many places, and arguably even a high school chem or physics lab could have enough facilities to allow for some experiments.
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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rawhide View Post
    What are you talking about? If they include a way to do a formal/verified assessment and issue a degree at the end of it, it is a proper and recognised university education.
    If that counts as a real and quantifiable degree, then I will be suing for my 100k degrees that i have...

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue1005 View Post
    If that counts as a real and quantifiable degree, then I will be suing for my 100k degrees that i have...
    From what I can gather, you can't currently get a full degree from the program. But for some you do get certificates to show that you have successfully completed it (and the online assessments).

    However, that said, there is apparently talk about being able to pay a nominal fee to optionally sit examinations at the end of it. This may allow you to get credit towards a degree, or get a whole degree through the program.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rawhide View Post
    From what I can gather, you can't currently get a full degree from the program. But for some you do get certificates to show that you have successfully completed it (and the online assessments).

    However, that said, there is apparently talk about being able to pay a nominal fee to optionally sit examinations at the end of it. This may allow you to get credit towards a degree, or get a whole degree through the program.

    I can see that causing a lot of issues if they are honored in the workforce. Including willful student loan defaults, myself included.

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    Default Re: Free Education....from Stanford?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue1005 View Post
    I can see that causing a lot of issues if they are honored in the workforce. Including willful student loan defaults, myself included.
    As someone who has completed a Masters with the debt to show for it, I have no problem with it - and I see absolutely no reason why, if the same standards for assessment were followed, they shouldn't be "honored" in the workforce.

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