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Bill Gates Praises Online Education in Annual Letter

Last January, Zach wrote that as Bill Gates started his first full year working full-time for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he'd been asked by big-time contributor Warren Buffett to begin writing annual letters. It's that time again for Gates, and in this year's lengthy missive, the former Microsoft CEO spends most of his time discussing global health-related concerns. He also gives an emphatic shout out to online education.He envisions creating one stellar online course for a particular subject, rather than many mediocre versions. He points to efforts such as Academic Earth, which collects lectures from some of the best universities in the U.S., giving users access to the classrooms of Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, Stanford physicist Leonard Susskin, and MIT physicist Walter Lewin (one of Gates' favorites). There are also several lecture by well known private sector individuals.In an interview with CNET, Gates said that online learning was significant for two reasons:
One is that you can get the very best lecture in the world and wherever you are, whenever you want, you can connect to that lecture. That's video on the Web, and it wasn't possible even five years ago. The other is this interactivity, where if you know a topic, you can kind of skip over it. Or if you're confused about it, [the area] where you're confused can be analyzed by software. That kind of personalized learn-at-your-own-pace type approach is pretty phenomenal.
To show that he is serious about this effort, he put his money where his mouth was, tweeting the unveiling of a new website last week. Called "The Gates Notes," it offers video and transcripts of recent discussions he's had with some the world's premiere thinkers and media personalities. He talks about wind energy with climate modeler Ken Caldeira, capitalism with Time managing editor Rick Stengel, and joins with Buffett to discuss the economic meltdown with Charlie Rose.So, in a way, you can learn along with the world's richest man.Photo via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/David Evans

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