If anything, it looks like Coursera and edX actively bury the finished courses. I wonder what Khan Academy's impact would be if he'd gone with this approach.
Of course, this just reveals the conflict of interest - these institutions sell degrees, so they aren't necessarily excited about offering an easily accessible, thorough directory of courses.
I know that's one of the bigger reasons I managed to make it through the AI class last semester.
Whether this benefit outweighs the negatives I do not know.
I'm very independent and "lonerish" so my feeling are probably biased (I can't tell, too close) and defer to evolution having created the best mix of loners, herders, sociopaths, etc. But, still, herd mentality repulses me. I see it as a huge negative both personally and for society as a whole. That (young) people should be encouraged to be self-dependent and not follow the heard.
With that said, I realize that everyone has widely different learning styles. Maybe these new digital classrooms have room for employing different techniques to personally cater to each and every individual?
You would just have to wait for the second run of any course to get the learn at your own pace track.
- motivation (helps with procrastination)
- discussion (others are on the same stage)
> The most important button for video lectures is not ‘play’ but ‘pause.’ Students can always choose to pause at a point and, say, absorb a slide. What that means is that when you are creating an online lecture, you can build this option in and go fast. This is something that the Khan Academy have already worked out. But that Stanford course was still in the old style.
Short version: in a flipped classroom, you do the fixed content before the "lecture" period, and then during the "lecture" you do the "homework" in the prof's presence, with feedback, comments, and interaction. (There's a lot more to it; if you're curious, go look it up.)
The problem as I see it is that a lot of the "flipped classroom" advocates see the ideal pre-class prep as just video-recorded lectures: do exactly what you used to do, except in front of a video camera. I think that the flipped classroom has a lot of merit and have incorporated some of its ideas in my own teaching, but I really feel like the people videotaping their lectures are really missing the point and need to read this blog post for some of the many reasons their approach is problematic.
How does the world change? Will we simply speed up the process by which we maximize value in all known sectors? Or does something new happen?
Fourth-grade me had intuitively latched onto the idea that a curve's slope must itself have a slope. Limits (at least 11th-grade precalculus level limits) would have been well within my grasp in elementary school. In "helping" my dad with a basement remodel, I had actually wanted the area of a shape bound by a curve, but had no idea how to proceed. I developed an elementary understanding of recursion in my PHP and Python-hacking days (elementary and middle school - no time for that now) and had no trouble with time-complexity, object orientation, or introductory functional programming. NONE of that was so much as hinted at in school until sophomore year.
I don't know why we treat these ideas like dangerous weapons whose existence can only be hinted at until one comes of age.
I am a much better thinker than computer. Because my experience with "math" was years of drilling arithmetic, doing long-form multiplication and division without a calculator (WTF?), converting between forms for lines and parabolas, finding the x- and y- intercepts, plugging and chugging the quadratic formula, simplifying/solving nasty algebra, etc, I hated it. Nobody bothered to show me the point, I got sloppy, and now I'm sitting here with A-es and B+es throughout high school math, 660 on the SAT math section, 26 on the ACT math section (not outrageously difficult conceptually but a high-pressure speed trial), and no shot at any decent university's computer science program.
I think society loses a lot by making elementary/middle-level education about drilling exercises instead of engaging students with ideas to think about with the mechanics treated as secondary. Especially at the elementary level when kids are still naturally curious and have time and energy left over after school/homework to think and process. If I'm exceptional, my grades and test scores don't show it - I think a lot of kids could have handled substantially more on the ideas front.
Also: Shortly after learning to read in kindergarten, I was reading well above "grade level." Either I was innately gifted or "grade level" is pathetically low. I don't mean to disrespect the education experts, but it seems I've been helped orders of magnitude more, even at 8 years old, by the ambient presence of public radio, reading "grown-up" books and news I found interesting, and participating on internet forums than by identifying subjects and predicates or regurgitating plots onto tests. (Forced practice of composition is good - I've seen it help good writers get better, but I've never seen a bad writer improve through schooling).
On the other hand, Udacity seems more focused on a couple of core offerings.
This is, in my opinion, the most important point of this entire era of information, accessibility, and everything else. While everyone else is getting grumpy about how the kids are taking all this relatively new stuff for granted, we're ignoring the fact that these are literally the people who will build "the future". People are motivated by what they take for granted– it's the baseline, it's what everyone deserves, and it's what we're responsible for making better all the time.
Coursera's current production quality, style, and platform leaves much to be desired. Andrew and Daphne should realize that flipping the classroom is not enough. The whole point of flipping the classroom is that most learning happens _outside_ the lecture hall. In an online context, this means that the emphasis must be on creating engaging and useful exercises and a vibrant online community. It also means that lectures have to be _far better_ than those delivered in the classroom. Taking your old powerpoints and inking over them while running screen-capture software just doesn't cut it. Ask Vi Hart.
In addition, Coursera classes are run mostly within the framework designed for a university course -- complete with rigid schedules and limits on collaboration (dictated by honor code). If my goal is simply to "learn some subset of X", not "learn all of X in a given time frame and get tested on it", this is all unnecessary baggage.
When Udacity completely separated itself from Stanford a few months back, I thought it was a risky move putting them at a disadvantage. Right now, Udacity is producing better content. When we come to a point that it is the quality of education that matters and not the branding, they might be significantly ahead.
In fact, the thing I like least of school is the repetitive homework, so this works well...for me. And perhaps that's the most important thing here.
First, I think their business model (talent discovery and job placement) depends on good assessment of students' ability. At least, this is Udacity's business model.
Second, I think that the OP's assumption that this is not for accreditation is wrong. I think they do want Coursera's statement of accomplishment to be valuable on it's own (even if "Stanford" is not mentioned in it). For instance, if I were an employer, I'd hire anyone with Coursera's statement of accomplishment in a challenging class as the Probabilistic Graphical Models class . Of course, the only problem is, as the OP mentions:
> For online courses, no one has cracked how to verify whether an identified student is the same person as the one doing the assessment.
 The class started with 44000 students ; by the 4th week there were about ~2000 left ; my guess is there are around 1000 left after the crazy 5th assignment... Though, One may argue that these statistics in part are due to rough edges and cryptic instructions in some of the programming assignments and quizzes.
 according to the published class' 4th week quiz statistics.
For school, the kid goes on the streets of Toronto to raise money for cancer research. He notes that a homeless man has likely already found the most attractive location to raise money (near the subway). Then, he uses backwards induction to infer that the homeless man will leave if he begins collecting for a more worthy charitable cause in the same location.
Back to your regularly scheduled programming, my apologies for this station mis-identification.
I really liked what he said about online education design. The potential exposure of a university course to hundreds of thousands more students than before means that their quality will be under more intense scrutiny. Ultimately, I think that's great and hopefully viewership can pressure professors to construct more engaging lecture videos.
My note would be that there seems to be a clear difference between the courses which are lecture-based and the ones which are exercise-bases (later being the lest frequent ones)