Udacity has evolved the MOOC (massive open online courses) concept into one that really helps people throughout the course; to complete the course. The most recent completion rates in pilots we’ve been running have been 85 percent, as opposed to 5 percent or 4 percent, which is common in MOOC-land.
Started in 2012, Udacity’s goal is to make education affordable for everyone. All classes are available for free on the Web, and some also offer college credits for a fee of $150. Sebastian Thrun (Udacity CEO) has worn many hats in the tech world: Stanford research professor, founder of Google’s X Labs, where he oversaw the development of self-driving cars and Google Glass, and, most recently, passionate advocate for MOOCs.
Even at the top-notch institutions you find that students often take the courses that are the least work. Some people are in there for learning, but some people are in there to say we want to have a certificate. Sometimes it’s because the courses are just too long. Many MOOCs are like semester-long classes, and they’re just a long time to sit in each. In this day and age, I mean, if you look at video games, that are much, much shorter, and tweets are shorter than e-mails, right, so everything is becoming shorter, faster.
We have to really work on artificial intelligence, really understand, like, where can we take a student if they have a certain kind of learning profile? We do some of it manually right now, so we analyze student profiles, we make predictions of what are the success rates, and then we intervene manually right now based on the predictions we get from students’ profiles. But we haven’t automated this yet. So eventually it’s going to be a big piece of artificial intelligence that sits there, watches you learn, and helps you pick the right learning venue or task, so you’re more effective and have more pleasure.
In 5 years, Udacity wants to be a university for the 21st century.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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