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Why Stanford's Free Online Education Experiment Is Booming

Professors want virtual students to have the same experience as the ones in the physical classroom.


This fall, Stanford decided to experiment by offering its three most popular computer science classes to the public—for free. Within weeks, 200,000 people from around the globe signed up, with Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, taught by renowned Stanford professors Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun (pictured above), attracting a whopping 160,000 students.

Norvig’s tracking found that more than 3 million users have come to the page since the university announced the artificial intelligence class. And more than 35,000 of the people who signed up have stuck with Intro to A.I., turning in assignments and taking midterm exams right along with the 175 students paying to take the class in person.

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Extra Credit: The Rise of the Parent-Janitor Conference

What we're reading at GOOD Education HQ.



In a recent townhall meeting, President Obama critiqued his own policies on standardized testing.

An anonymous adjunct faculty member, Professor X, claims college isn't for everyone. He's penned a tell-all book, In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic, detailing his teaching experiences on open admissions campuses.

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The 100 Best Online Education Resources

Ready to take your online learning experience to the next level? This compilation of the best resources on the web has all the tools you need.

With the amount of education resources online expanding at warp speed, figuring out which sites are high quality—and truly useful—is quite a challenge. Fortunately, the folks over at Mashable have separated the wheat from the chaff for us with their just-released list of 100-plus online resources that are transforming education.

To make it easy to figure out which resource will best suit your needs, the list is conveniently broken down into nine distinct categories such as "collaborative learning," "learner tools," and "live training and tutoring."

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We're in the midst of an explosion in online learning, in part spurred by the Open CourseWare movement and the prodding of proponents like Bill Gates. A new study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, however, suggests that the mass migration of material online may result less effective learning circumstances that impact, in particular, traditionally difficult to educate populations (males, Hispanic students, and low achievers).

The study, conducted by researchers at Northwestern University's School of Education and Policy, focused on an introductory course in microeconomics in which more than 1,600 students are enrolled each semester. As a result of space issues, many of the students opt to watch online versions of lectures.

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