Thursday, 19 January 2012

Stanford online classes

I mentioned when I started this blog that I was signed up for some free online classes with Stanford University (sadly, you don't get any university credit for them, but hey-ho).

Actually, I signed up for three in the autumn (or "fall" in Stanford parlance) -- Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Databases.  Unfortunately they started just before my final French hand-in, so I never got properly started.  However, what I saw looked promising.  Well-produced video lectures, well planned tasks and an active support community.

The three mentioned above were the only ones available at the time, but they've since added several other options, and I think they'd be worth checking out for anyone.

Courses are scheduled to run for 8 weeks, and while you're encouraged to stick to the timetable (you'll get a little certificate to print out if you complete it and submit your assignments at the right time) you can follow at your own pace if you can't keep up.

The courses were all scheduled to start this month but the anatomy course (which I'd signed up for) won't be starting until the 8th of March now.  For me, that's a nuisance on two counts.  1: the other courses I've signed up for won't be finished by then (so I can't simply take on another course in the interim) and 2: it's now running during the latter part of the semester, so risks interfering with my studies.  Oh well, as I said, you don't need to stick to the schedule, so I might just have to keep it until I've finished for the year and do it without getting the certificate.

So for those of you interested in signing up, here's what's on offer, courses starting variously in January, February and March:

Computer Science

NB: these courses are being offered free as an experiment to refine the technologies and processes.  Stanford are spinning the technology off as a new start-up, Coursera, who will trying to turn a profit from the courses in the future.  I personally have no problem with this, but I was a bit insulted that they didn't make this clear to me at the start.  What's wrong with a bit of openness and honesty?

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