This fall, you can finally fulfill your dream of taking a course at Stanford University. And no, you don’t have to be accepted into the school like 15+ thousand geniuses each year, nor do you have to fork over your entire life savings.
Started as an experiment, the computer science department at Stanford is opening three of their most popular courses to the general public, and anyone can participate for free. Throughout the academic quarter, you will follow alongside other Stanford students, with access to every lecture, slideshow, and other course material. Although you won’t get credit like the Stanford students in the class, you will receive feedback on your progress and a statement of accomplishment for completing any of the courses.
The most popular course thus far, with over 70,000 signups as of this moment, is an Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class. Taught by two leading experts in the field, online students are expected to tackle the same tough course material as the students. For instance, you will get acquainted with robotics, machine learning, and information retrieval. Participants can even attend office hours, but not in the traditional sense, considering the thousands who have signed up so far. Rather, the professors plan on using the Google Moderator service, where students can submit and vote for the best questions for the professors to answer.
The goal of the experiment is to bring education to anyone around the world and possibly pave the way for other top universities to follow. When asked whether offering the courses for free may harm the university’s reputation, one of the AI professors dismissed the idea stating that he’s “more interested in bringing Stanford to the world.” He also adds that “the developing world [has] colossal educational needs.”
You can actually get an early taste of what it will be like to follow along a Stanford computer science class. Head over to the Stanford Engineering Everywhere website, and you’ll find lecture videos of 13 of the most popular engineering classes available for free.