floating university experimental ed 101

EXPERIMENTAL ED 101: We're mesmerized by the experiments going on in higher ed this autumn. On the west coast, Stanford is offering several free computer sci courses, with a starting line up that includes AI rock stars, Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. Their pitch: it's free and it's the same stuff that a Stanford student would get. Signups shot past 125,000; lectures, homework and quizzes (eek!) begin in October. On the east coast: the Floating University is offering up a 12-lecture program (50 minutes apiece) featuring some of the best known wonks from Harvard, Yale and Bard College. (Two stars include: former Treasury Sec., Larry Summers and theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku.) The program looks smartly produced and proposes to deliver on one of the long-time promises of the Internet (what if you could cherry pick the best courses from the best universities?). They're charging a $495 fee for the course; it's been oversubscribed at the three schools, where seminars that were supposed to be for say, 30 students have seen 300 or more sign up. (The schools are giving credits for the class, as least on campus and a paper is due at the end of the term.) We'll report back later in the semester on how students are doing.

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