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Think Out Loud

New Approach to Online Learning

Pete Springer/OPB

Last fall, Stanford University offered a course on Artificial Intelligence. While 70% of Stanford courses have fewer than 20 students, this class slightly exceeded the average enrollment: Over 120,000 students signed up.

The course was one of the first to attempt a new type of online education called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Anyone who wants to take the a MOOC can do so for free or for low cost. Students would not need to be enrolled at the university to take the classes. The University of Washington (UW) is the latest school to try out the approach, through a for-profit company called Coursera.

The UW will offer two free courses: Scientific Computing and Information Security & Risk Management in Context. They will also offer some certificate and for-credit courses for a fee, but details have not been set.

What’s your experience with online education? Would you pay a small fee to take an online course with tens of thousands of other students?

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