Many thanks to Alex Tabarrok for the heads-up on Stanford’s online offering. I hope this free course will be a prototype for many more of the same caliber. Though I’ll be traveling during the course period I’m very tempted to sign up just so I can monitor the effectiveness of the course. I’m keen to evaluate the courseware. As I’ve written in previous posts, I think the future of education has to move towards connecting the star teachers with large numbers of students – such as in South Korea where the leading free-market tutor made $4 million lecturing to some 50,000 students.
You can’t get much more high profile than co-teaching by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. Whether either is a star teacher I do not know – but they are superstar researchers.
Here’s Alex’s commentary:
Stanford’s ‘Introduction to Artificial Intelligence’ course will be offered free to anyone online this fall. The course will be taught by SebastianThrun (Stanford) and PeterNorvig (Google, Director of Research), who expect to deal with the historically large course size using tools like Google Moderator.
There will two 75 min lectures per week, weekly graded homework assignments and quizzes, and the course is expected to require roughly 10 hours per week. Over 10,000 students have already signed up.
In 2003, I argued that professors were becoming obsolete, giving a 10 to 20 year time for a big move to online education. Later, I pointed out that the market was moving towards superstar teachers, who teach hundreds at a time or even thousands online. Today, we have the Khan Academy, a huge increase in online education, electronic textbooks and peer grading systems and highly successful superstar teachers with Michael Sandel and his popular course Justice, serving as example number one.
One of the last remaining items holding back online education is a credible system to credential and compare student achievement across universities. Arnold Kling has that covered with a new business model.
For superstars and strong researchers, life in the ivory tower remains good. But for most teachers the cushy life is gone; tenure is just a dream for a majority of university teachers, salaries are low and teaching requirements have risen.
As in other fields what we are seeing is an increase in teaching inequality, at the top are high-salary superstars surrounded by apprentices who work long hours at low pay for a lottery ticket that for most will not payoff and at the bottom are lots of mid-skill adjuncts who do the drudge work of teaching remedial English and math.
Addendum: Tim Worstall points to the UK’s University of London as a model for the future.