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Online course from the creator of Scala, starting this September (coursera.org)
74 points by pedro-pinto on July 17, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

What's the business model? I can see why Odersky might want to promote his own language but more generally, why would someone of his caliber devote the time? Philanthropy? Or do the universities pay?

I believe companies are paying them for access to the best students of specific courses (for recruiting).

For example, the Princeton Algorithms course says:

.. Coursera will maintain limited data regarding student progress and performance in this course and, with your permission, provide authorized third parties with access to such data.


Given what recruiting fees are, I'd imagine this could work quite well. It is unclear how well it will scale, but if they can keep their costs low enough it may not need to.

"The founders said they were not ready to announce a strategy for profitability, but noted that the investment gave them time to develop new ways to generate revenue."

So I think letting universities pay for the data or students paying for certificates.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/technology/coursera-plans-...

Odersky is also Chairman and Chief Architect of Typesafe which promotes Scala and is backed by Greylock Partners. Typesafe offers its own courses as well.

That is seriously impressive. How many universities get the creator of a language in to teach you how to use it?

Note that Martin Odersky is a Professor at EPFL. So it's not like they got him in teach Scala -- he already works there and naturally wants to teach a course on programming using the language he designed.

The big one that comes to mind is Stroustrop at Texas A&M.

Which is sort of an odd situation.

I took a CS intro class at Texas A&M there and he came in at the end of the semester to talk more about C++11x. So he ended up going off about support for threading and things that were way over most people's heads and how the language was getting all of these new features.

From a university standpoint, every intro CS class is C++ for the most part. There is some Java thrown in, and maybe some Python, but all of the algorithms/data structures, really the meat of the basic CS education, is all in C++ because of him. Other professors do some of their research in C++ mainly because they can just walk down the hall and ask him questions about the language if need be.

I think for grad students he would be an awesome resource to have. For the undergraduates, he has cast a strong and complex shadow on the department. The environment has become you learn C++ and then go into the Oil/Engineering/Accounting industry.

No major point here, just reflecting on the topic of "Stroustrop at TAMU"

Bertrand Meyer creator of Eiffel teaches at ETH Zurich

It's impressive, but also unusual, which makes sense: most language-specific courses tend to be geared towards beginners / people who are relatively new to programming in general. Some language developers are great teachers, so they make excellent instructors for an introductory course. But I wouldn't say this quality is universal, much like how many respected CS professors/researchers aren't so great at teaching.

Not commenting on Odersky in particular, since I'm not sufficiently familiar with him, besides the white Scala book. I will say though that course description claiming Scala "provides the core infrastructure" for my employer is a small overstatement. We definitely use it for some important services, and continue to use it for new projects, but it isn't accurate to imply it's the dominant language in our codebase.

How many universities get the creator of a language in to teach you how to use it?

I think that is why lots of people are attracted to working at Google (Pike, Thompson, van Rossum, Bloch, etc)

Ross Ihaka, coauthor of R, is an Associate Professor of Statistics at University of Auckland.

His Clojure analogue Rich Hickey gives great presentations at conferences. If he had the time and/or means to do a course, it'd also be excellent news.

Edit: Though I don't think he's affiliated with a university. Oh well, there's still lots of good Clojure-oriented stuff available: http://alexott.net/en/clojure/video.html

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