Cassidy: Coursera class offers peek into determination of student body - SiliconValley.com
: " . . . When I talked to Andrew Ng, the Stanford computer science associate professor who helped launch the for-profit Coursera not quite a year ago, he said that providing the developing world with potential was one of the most satisfying aspects of the company so far. "When everyone in the world has access to a great education, it really means we can move forward to a world where there is an equality of opportunity," says Ng, who was inspired to start Coursera in part by an online Stanford Machine Learning course he offered that attracted 100,000 students worldwide who were interested in that branch of artificial intelligence. That course showed Ng almost immediately the sort of reach online education can have. He was taken by the stories of his many students -- from a poor man in India with a passion for machine learning to a single mother in the United States who had a long-standing goal. "There was a single mother that had been working to go back to school and for whom an online class really gave her her first opportunity to do so," Ng says. Green, the University of Maryland lecturer who teaches my class, says part of the appeal of teaching a MOOC is that you are faced with a class of students who bring with them a nearly limitless variety of life experiences, including those not found on U.S. campuses. "I have University of Maryland students that are going to miss class because they have an interview with Google
)." . . . The accessibility and flexibility of the online classes appear to be a winning combination. What started as a research project run by Ng and four students is now a massive venture-backed online university offering more than 300 courses from 62 schools and serving about 2.7 million students, according to Coursera. . . . the expectations for the way the world gets educated are being rewritten on a daily basis."
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