Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Open Ed 13: Andrew Ng

Image representing Andrew Ng as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase
"Andrew Ng is co-founder of Coursera, and developed the initial platform for Stanford’s online machine learning and databases classes that started the popularization of MOOCs. He wants to give everyone access to the best professors in the best universities in the world, for free. In his spare time, he runs the Stanford AI Lab, builds large scale brain simulations, and practices sucking at ping pong."

Ng is not here unfortunately he is Skyping in from Stanford. We were asked to turn off devices to clear up the bandwidth for him. The irony was pretty thick. 

Ng is new to online teaching and went from reaching 400 students to 100,000 students. They have over 5.2 million students in just 2 years.

He demonstrated a Coursera course and the one-way delivery of information (Powerpoint and talking head). The videos can be played at 2x speed. The courses allow students to choose their path through the material.

Students learn best "by practicing the material." They have built in exercises and assessments into the material. They have pop-up assessments in videos. There is an app platform that they are using to build assessments. The courses allow four attempts at the quiz - they are more interested in mastery than in grades.

He discussed peer grading. Students are "trained" to assess student work. They are also required to grade the work of five students. Peer grading would be important for student-student interaction.

They developed a discussion forum that allows students to ask and answer questions. They are getting a 22 minute response time. They are also using advanced students as tutors and mentors. They are running experiments to build up community.

Coursera is capturing the re-entry and life-long learner - their average student is in their late 20s to early 30s.

They are now expanding courses internationally in many languages.

Benefit for the students: the verified certificate from an Ivy League college. One of the challenges of issuing a credential to 100,000 students - how do you know who is who? They are taking a picture w/photo id. They take a picture with a webcam and they track the "typing signature" which is analyzed by software.

He suggests that these courses could be best adopted by the flipped classroom model. He calls this the best of both worlds. He gave a definition of flipped classrooms. He is using the description of "flipped classroom" to solve the personal contact issues around his model of online courses.

Education should not just be for the elite - there should be opportunities for everyone.

Rory said that what you learn at Cousera belongs to Coursera - a private company will not let you use Coursera material for credit giving education that are restricted.  Why isn't the university using a Creative Commons license?  Ng said that it costs over 60k to build a class and they need to be "sustainable."

This is not "open" - the real question is why are they at an open education conference. Just because something is free to students does not mean that it is open. Open content should be licensed in a way that the content can be reused. Coursera is asking for a fee. There is also lot of reinventing the wheel here. A lot of the issues they are facing have already been dealt with in the 90s as online eduction was first being put together.
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