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Part of the backstory here is that ai-class.com is by Udacity (Sebastian Thrun), while ml-class.org and pgm-class.org are by Coursera (Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller). Formerly colleagues from the same department, now competitors with very similar education startups, all the way down to the naming conventions. Lot of fur flying about who copied who.

Coursera has been launching a ton of classes[1]. Probably Sebastian feels that to beat Andrew and Daphne, he has to go full time.

[1] http://www.cs101-class.org/hub.php




" Formerly colleagues from the same department, now competitors with very similar education startups"

(Without taking sides, and somewhat tangentially) if true, we consumers are in for a good time. Competition,especially with such formidable people leading rival companies, is awesome.


So, does this explain the unexpected delay of the Spring ML-Class? I haven't heard any news until a few days ago when I got an email saying there were delays in starting the new semester.


I'm interested in this question too. Two of my classes both sent the same type of email. I'd be very surprised if these aren't related.


All of the January classes have sent out the same email. Been receiving them for the last few days.


I got the same mail from about 5 or 6 of them, just fyi


Thrun's pages at Stanford robots.stanford.edu has been taken offline.

Google caches are available by searching robots.stanford.

Somethings up anyhoo.

I hope this will not affect future classes by Stanford professors, I am so looking forward to professor Koller's Probabalistic Graphical Models.


Could you please elaborate on how you reached such an interesting reasoning behind the launch of these classes.


I can confirm that his reasoning is correct. The word on the street is that Sebastian alienated the powers-that-be at Stanford.


How did this happen - did he want to push online education in different directions? Did he want to pursue more overtly commercial interests than his counterparts, which seem to be approaching it from a nonprofit sense? Was there a personal falling out between Andrew Ng and Sebastian Thrun?

The non-profit focused alternative seems to currently have both a better platform and more participation. Can a lesser amount of potential revenue allow this to scale up? Or will professor's be drawn by the larger salaries commercial teaching organizations could command, coupled with more extensive and rapid feature deployment?


I know of at least one Stanford student who feels swindled by this transition to online classes. 1. For some stanford costs a lot of money while online it's free and 2. The time taken developing this class may take away from the in person experience, further reducing the value of attending classes at Stanford.

Any idea if these feelings are wide spread? I only have the one sample.


I find this attitude really strange. The value in going to Stanford isn't that you get to take the physical classes, it's that you can walk up to Prof. Ng's office (and/or similar caliber profs) and have a chat, and more importantly target yourself to be doing some research under them before you graduate.

Having merely taken a class with someone big in the field (especially a large class) is essentially an interesting point of trivia to bring up at dinner sometime. If anything these online courses are about demonstrating that the scarcity of chairs in a great professors classroom is rather artificial. Having done research under (even if it's pretty trivial stuff you personally do) someone great will really have an impact on your career.

If you're an undergrad and your not spending a good amount of your time talking one on one with researchers you have access to you're not taking advantage of a huge benefit of attending a university.


The online students aren't getting the most valuable part of the entire thing - a diploma with the name "Stanford" on it. Yes computer programming is a young profession that isn't as hidebound as many others, but it is maturing and as is true for most other professions, soon proxies will dominate hiring.


Additionally, you can actually make relationships with these folks, which are highly useful in the future for recommendations, etc.


Even more interesting to me anyway is the fact that this is potentially a sign of a shift in the industry from importance of the traditional higher education credential to importance of a worthy alternative credential not owned by traditional university systems and structures -- which is extremely exciting.

I still agree that the networking components and group-learning (or face-to-face interaction) are missed (and are extremely valuable), and so it will be very interesting to see how this new paradigm deals with that issue.


I'm currently enrolled in Daphne Koller's Probabilistic Graphical Models, which will be offered later this quarter as online class. The sentiment among my friends is largely positive. First of all, personally I embrace the entire philosophy of moving toward better educational models that leverage technological progress, I am excited to be caught up in the transition, and I am more proud to be a student here. But more importantly, the instructors put more effort into the courses now that they are online, so we benefit directly from better prepared exercises, more of them, better structure of the class, etc. Naturally, there is a difference between how much preparation goes into teaching 50 people in a room compared to teaching 50,000 while spearheading educational revolution.


As another sample, I'll say I'm far from feeling swindled. I was a bit disappointed that the publicly available ML class and its Stanford equivalent only differed in one optional discussion a week - but I certainly don't feel the time taken developing the class took away from the in person experience, and I do think Andrew Ng and the staff were more available for Stanford students than they were for those taking the class online (which I view as the justification for the Stanford tuition costs).

The cryptography class I'm taking this quarter is more to my liking in that aspect, as in addition to the video lectures (which I assume will make up the bulk of the public offering), there is another 2 hours of lecture and a discussion that cover additional material. In this kind of a set up, the added benefit for the Stanford students from an educational standpoint certainly seems more tangible.


My response to this mentality is the same as when MIT students scoffed at OCW: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2067985.


That's too bad...for Stanford. It must have been a somewhat serious fight.


you mean Coursera is founded by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller? well that means Stanford picked Coursera over Udacity, all their other online courses due to start are on Coursera. Andrew Ng is also the Director of their AI lab, pretty unusual for someone who isn't a full professor yet.


Neither of them seem to have a collaboration with iTunes U. That is going to be where a big chunk of page views come from, and I guess Apple even manages the streaming infrastructure for it.




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