Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: 200,000 students per class

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    215

    Default 200,000 students per class

    Inspired by the number of people that the Khan Academy's free video lectures reached, Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun put his own artificial intelligence class online and enrolled 160,000 students. After scrambling to accommodate so many pupils, he came away from the experience with a new vision of education so different that he says he "can't teach at Stanford again." Instead, he's starting an online university called Udacity. Thrun hopes to teach about 200,000 students per class including grading exams and quizzes in contrast to the mere hundreds taught at a brick-and-mortar university. The first two classes, starting February 20th, will teach students around the world to build a search engine or program a robotic car, and enrollment is free. You can catch a glimpse of what inspired Sebastian Thrun's career change in his presentation at DLD today.

    from http://www.theverge.com/web/2012/1/2...ine-university

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    It will be interesting to see if/how people such as Khan and Thrun monetize this approach to education. Options range from tuition to sponsorship to advertising to who knows what. At minimum, there's a hosting fee they might wish to recover, plus perhaps the value of their time, and that's before even thinking about the value of their curriculum.

    The Web is rife with free curricular content spanning preK, K-12, college, and graduate level course. This content ranges from single lessons to full subjects to entire years and beyond. One challenge is finding such curriculum that's effective.

    In theory, one thing that publishers (that is, traditional curriculum providers) bring to the table is the ability to create curriculum that's based on research and backed by efficacy results. This is particularly prevalent in K-12 publishing, but certainly not uniformly practiced. And that's not to say that other types of authors can't design effective curriculum, just that there's often a question mark. At the college level, it's not clear to me at all how curriculum is designed and tested.

    As content moves to quick printing and digitial environments, one of the advantages of the traditional publisher--the printing press--goes away. Others, such as large sales forces, remain, and the channel to the end-user is still important.

    From the publisher's perspective, there's long been a fear that the curriculum model will change. For companies such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson, K-12 revenues exceed $1B, and the vast majority of that revenue (90%+) is represented by traditional textbooks for the general education population. That revenue is clearly at risk.

    The bulk of my exposure to this part of the industry came between 2006 and 2008 when I was at Sopris West Educational Services (part of Cambium Learning). Sopris West, now more than 30 years old, started in the professional development and special education markets and morphed to include as the bulk of its business the sale of curricular products aimed at struggling students.

    One of the products that Sopris West carries is a reading assessment called DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills). What was interesting about this product was that schools could buy it from Sopris West ... or download it from the University of Oregon for free. A sizable fraction of schools appreciated how the paid product was packaged for ease of use. In addition, they quickly learned that having people use photocopiers to print was as or more expensive than buying the product. Still, a free alternative existed.

    Sopris West (and many others) also sold training for DIBELS. The Florida Department of Education, which purchased DIBELS from Sopris West, was the first that I saw to challenge the paid training model by creating their own training videos and delivering them (for free) to FL school districts. At the time, I wondered how long it would be before they or others created the assessments themselves--and next, the curriculum--and gave that away for free as well. Not too long thereafter, FL DOE did just that, creating their own early reading assessment.

    I'm not aware of any states having created curriculum yet, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if some have. The "losers" in such a model will likely be the authors, who will see ongoing royalties change to lower work for hire fees, and more so, the "middleman" publishers. There's nothing inherently wrong with these publishers going away, of course, but doing so would mark a fairly significant change. While this is a change that might help schools a bit with budget problems, the vast majority of what they spend is on teachers ... a model that may also be threatened with approaches like that of Khan, Thrun, and others.

    It's going to be fascinating to watch how technology changes how education takes place, from reading and math skill development software to content areas such as social studies and science to assessment to when and where education takes place and so much more. (If it's not obvious, the place to be in the education market is on the technology side--growth there will continue to be healthy for years to come even as the total spend on educational materials drops and drops and drops.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    215

    Default

    Khan seems far more driven by the opportunity to radically improve education than on monetizing his product; his organization is a non-profit, for example. He clearly knows that nothing syndicates good ideas faster than capitalism; perhaps he'll focus on the methodology and core tools, leaving the distribution and deployment to others.

    It will be interesting to see what technology Thrun employs in his quest to attract and manage a class of 200,000 students, and what business model he chooses. I've never heard of him, but then I stopped following academic AI years ago. Had Stephen Jay Gould or Carl Sagan had the ability to deliver courses online, I'd have signed up at $100/seat in a heartbeat.

    While online-enhanced lectures and collaboration (assuming that's what Thrun has in mind) work for college students and professionals with a solid educational foundation, Khan's thesis is that flipping the classroom is the more effective way to help preK-12 students establish that framework, maintaining the need for a low student-teacher ratio.

    Here's an update on Khan Academy by June Kronholz .

    Here's a timely warning from Robert X Cringely: Class Dismissed: Even Good Students Don't Always Want to Learn.

    The contrast between these two articles is remarkable: Observing a 5th grade math class using Khan, Kronholz excitedly reports that "The classroom buzzed with activity, and amazingly, all the buzz was about math" whereas Cringely's new hero Steve says of his Community College course "...around me all my peers had their laptops open. Were they taking notes electronically? No, every screen was either open to Facebook or to some online game."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    I had a meeting with someone from the Newton Public Schools yesterday. While on another topic, and without being prompted, the shared their interest in "flipping the classroom," which they described as consuming information outside the classroom and sharing/acting upon it in the classroom. I found that to be a crisp way of explaining the idea.

    Robert X. Cringely! I'd completely forgotten about him--I used to read him in InfoWorld (I think) back in the 1990s. I'll be sure to put his blog (back) on my regular reading list.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    215

    Default

    More "massive class" news from Stanford.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    215

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I had a meeting with someone from the Newton Public Schools yesterday. While on another topic, and without being prompted, the shared their interest in "flipping the classroom," which they described as consuming information outside the classroom and sharing/acting upon it in the classroom. I found that to be a crisp way of explaining the idea.
    Besides enabling students to achieve mastery at their own pace, the "flipped classroom" approach results in classroom sessions that are collaborative and physically active, with the teacher and students helping students understand troublesome concepts. This approach replaces mind-numbing sedentary lectures with stimulating activity for all participants, activity that also teaches students how to work together, and that builds understanding and respect for teaching.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    215

    Default

    Cringely has posted an excellent followup. Note the reference to Stephenson's The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer in the comments.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •