|Photo: Jessica Leber|
|Dropouts: Artificial-intelligence researchers |
Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller
left academia to start an online-education company.
Photo: Technology Review
Since then, Coursera’s growth has been rapid and all consuming. The company has posted more than 200 free classes taught by professors at 33 top universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania and Caltech. More than 1.5 million students have signed up, and about 70,000 new students—the equivalent of four or five Stanfords—join every week.
Koller, 44, now spends her average day “probably on a plane somewhere” headed to pitch Coursera to university administrators and faculty. The last 10 months have transformed her from a celebrated expert in statistics into the co-CEO of a large and complex educational website whose money-making plans are still nascent.
“As I drive home, I sometimes think this is somebody else’s life,” she says. She calls the experience “surreal.”
So far, tearing down the paywalls around higher education has been the simple part. What’s more challenging is making online classes like “A History of the World Since 1300” and “Algorithms I” match the quality of their in-person equivalents. That means racing to set up live forums for class discussions, keeping the site from crashing amidst the crush of students, and urgently seeking ways to make classes more interactive and to automate grading as much as possible.
Source: Technology Review