Link to the Udacity web site
Latest article about Udacity.
Udacity snags $15M to continue its assault on higher education, Andreessen Horowitz is leading a new investment in this change-the-world kind of company, which is run by a man who’s already done world-changing things. Link C/net, 25 October 2012.
Udacity is the result of an experimental Stanford Engineering online class that was conducted at the end of 2011 by Sabastian Thrun (Research Professor of Computer Science at Stanford) and Peter Norvig (Director of Research at Google).
The Stanford Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Course (a 200 level course) was offered for free online with no prerequisites. Students could either audit the course of have their homework and exams graded to receive a class ranking. No credits were offered to the online group.
The online group was 160,000 students for the ten week course. 23,000 passed the homework and exams. 253 had perfect scores. Of the 200 taking the course at Stanford for credit by the end of the course only 41 were attending class with the other 159 taking it on line. Thrun gave one of his hardest exams and had the highest passing rate ever for the for credit students.
Students used the class blog to post questions and a Facebook “Like” system that caused the best questions to rise to the top. Other students answered the questions and were rated by the class with an Amazon five star system so the best answers rose to the top.
Students from around the world were teaching one another.
Thrun realized that by using a student employment agency model and representing the very best student to world class companies that every 50 students hired at the usual recruiting fees of 20% of the employees first year salary resulting in a payment by the employers of $1 million. By representing the hiring process of the top 5% of students more than enough funding can be generated to educate the rest of the world for free.
This has the potential to obsolete the tuition model.
Udacity is starting with Computer Science courses but will soon expand to the sciences.