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Earlier this week,Inside Higher Ed's Steve Kolowichlooked at the success Stanford University has had this fall by offering 3 of its engineering courses online. The courses -- Introductions toArtificial Intelligence,Machine Learning, andDatabases-- were available on the Web for free; anyone could register, andhundreds of thousandsof people did.

It's hardly a new idea to put university course materials online. Indeed,MIT Opencoursewarecelebrated its 10th anniversary this year. (For an interesting look at how discussions about open education and online education have and haven't changed over the past decade, I recommend readingthe 2001 New York Times storyannouncing MIT's initiative.)

But the focus of MIT and other universities that are part of theOpenCourseWare Consortiumis just that --courseware. Course materials are freely available online -- syllabi, notes, exams, handouts -- and the material is licensedCC BY-NC-SA. But there is no access to the instructor. There is no interaction with other students (I should clarify: these things might happen, but it isn't part of the OCW design and isn't part of the university's expectations or responsibility.)

The Stanford online experiment this fall is something different...

Read the rest of the story at Inside Higher Ed...

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Audrey Watters


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