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Stanford Engineering's New Online Classes: Hugely Popular and Bursting With Activity

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Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun

Peter Norvig, left, and Sebastian Thrun are teaching Introduction to Artificial Intelligence at Stanford this fall.

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About 300,000 students have registered for Stanford University's first set of comprehensive, free online computer science courses, which include courses in databases, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Registered students come from more than 190 countries, with 40 percent being from the United States, and India accounting for the second largest block of students.

Each course is designed to capture the community-mindedness of its students. Online students gain access to faculty and three of the most popular computer science courses the university offers. Each class has a set of prerecorded mini-lectures that are stored on multiple servers that students can access at their own pace.

The databases and machine learning classes use the CourseWare platform, which lets faculty upload videos and handouts, offer interactive online quizzes, and track discussions among students and teachers. By enabling students to do more than just watch a series of lectures for free, the three new online classes will help show that the technology exists to "give a high quality education to a large number of people either for free or at very low cost," says Stanford professor Andrew Ng.

From Stanford University
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