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Stanford expands free online courses: entrepreneurship, tech and creativity

Stanford expands free online courses: entrepreneurship, tech and creativity

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Stanford's fall lineup of free 'massive open online courses' offers expanded selection of disciplines, hosted on three platforms, including Coursera.

Just one year ago, Stanford University pioneered it's first free "massive open online courses," which consisted of two offerings in computer science. This year, the university says it is expanding the program to 16 free new online courses, covering a wide range of fields including cryptography, science writing, technology entrepreneurship, finance, computer science, mathematics, linguistics, science writing, sociology and education.

The expanding array of massive open online courses, which offer opportunity for anyone in the world to access a top-notch education, signifies the growing disruption in higher education. This is made possible by technology, as well as a recognition that the overpriced educational market as it stands is unsustainable.

Stanford also announced two new homegrown software platforms to host the courses. Each platform has its own distinct features and capabilities, among them video lectures, discussion forums, peer assessment, problem sets, quizzes and team projects. The courses are open to anyone with a computer, anywhere.

A team-based course, Technology Entrepreneurship, taught by Chuck Eesley, assistant professor of management science and engineering, garnered 37,000 students when it first appeared last spring. It is hosted on another new platform, Venture Lab, developed by Stanford faculty member Amin Saberi specifically for classes in which students work in teams.

The most widely available online learning platform, Coursera, will host nine Stanford courses this quarter, among them a new course, Writing in the Sciences, taught by epidemiologist Kristin Sainani, as well as Scott Klemmer's Human-Computer Interaction, which last spring enrolled around 29,000 students. Coursera was developed by two Stanford computer scientists who currently are on leave.

An open-source platform called Class2Go, developed by a team of Stanford engineers, will host An Introduction to Computer Networks, taught by Nick McKeown – an entrepreneur and a professor of electrical engineering and of computer science, whose networking startup, Nicira, was just acquired for $1.26 billion by VMware – and his colleague Philip Levis. Class2Go also will host a course on solar cells taught by physicist Bruce Clemens.

Here is the list of fall quarter classes, with course title, start date, platform, and instructor:

Machine Learning, Aug. 20, Coursera, Andrew Ng

Cryptography, Aug. 27, Coursera, Dan Boneh

Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, Sept. 17, Coursera, Keith Devlin

Probabilistic Graphical Models, Sept. 24, Coursera, Daphne Koller

Human-Computer Interaction, Sept. 24, Coursera, Scott Klemmer

Introduction to Logic, Sept. 24, Coursera, Michael Genesereth

Organizational Analysis, Sept. 24, Coursera, Dan McFarland

Writing in the Sciences, Sept. 24, Coursera, Kristin Sainani

Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 2, October, Coursera, Tim Roughgarden

Technology Entrepreneurship, Fall, Venture Lab, Chuck Eesley

A Crash Course on Creativity, Fall, Venture Lab, Tina Seelig

Designing a New Learning Environment, Fall, Venture Lab, Paul Kim

Finance, Fall, Venture Lab, Kay Giesecke

Startup Boards: Advanced Entrepreneurship, Fall, Venture Lab, Clint Korver

Solar Cells, Fuel Cells and Batteries, Oct. 8, Class2Go, Bruce Clemens

An Introduction to Computer Networks, Oct. 8, Class2Go, Nick McKeown and Philip Levis

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure