Students learning on their own might find that they are stuck on a specific point or need help with a specific topic.
Since open courseware students often do not have access to the faculty of their universities and associate resources, they can access Graduate Tutor’s expert faculty for assistance.
Only the Stanford students, and perhaps some of those taking the tests under Burgard’s watch in Freiburg, stand to redeem their efforts in Norvig and Thrun’s course for credit.
And yet the Stanford experiment punches a few more bricks out of the barrier that historically has kept “elite” courses in sequestration, creating more footholds for the so-called “edupunks” who would sooner scale that ivied wall than buy a key to the gate.
“It’s weight loss — not by watching someone else lose weight, but by you doing the work,” says Thrun.
There are other open education projects that promise active learning experiences for non-paying learners, notably Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI), which allows visitors to interact with a “smart” exercise platform that adapts to their unique needs.
But there are no human lectures or office hours built into the OLI courses.
Students taking those courses independently do not get tokens of achievement for completing coursework.
Still, those incurring travel costs could take solace: First, they did not have to trek nearly 6,000 miles to where the course was actually being given, at Stanford University. course was the flagship of a trio of Stanford computer science courses that were broadcast this fall, for the first time, to anyone on the Internet who cared to log in. T., Yale and Berkeley simply make the course materials freely available, without offering the opportunity to interact with the professors or submit assignments to be graded.) Including the 54 European students in the University of Freiburg lecture hall, 23,000 far-flung guests took the midterm exam, with many scoring on par with the 175 paying students who took the same test in Palo Alto.
Second, they stood a chance at getting academic credit for taking the course — previously available only to Stanford students as part of the university’s exclusive, ,000-per- year-tuition undergraduate curriculum — without paying a dime. This made Stanford the latest of a handful of elite American universities to pull back the curtain on their vaunted courses, joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open Course Ware project, Yale University’s Open Yale Courses and the University of California at Berkeley’s Webcast. The difference with the Stanford experiment is that students are not only able to view the course materials and tune into recorded lectures for CS221: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence; they are also invited to take in-class quizzes, submit homework assignments, and gather for virtual office hours with the course’s two rock star instructors — Peter Norvig, a research executive at Google who used to build robots for NASA, and Sebastian Thrun, a professor of computer science at Stanford who also works for Google, designing cars that drive themselves. Those who also complete the final exam this month will get a letter signed by Thrun, along with their cumulative grade and class rank.