Business Brains

Stanford's free global online classroom to expand next semester

Stanford's free global online classroom to expand next semester

Posting in Design

Stanford professors opened two courses to the world in the fall 2011 semester, to great interest. Now the effort is being expanded, and will include courses on launching startups.

A couple of months back, we reported on how some IT professors at Stanford University were opening up their courses for the world to participate, with no tuition cost. This fall, courses on Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Introduction to Databases and Introduction to Machine Learning were launched, all delivered between October and December.  (I have been participating in the AI course, it's really extremely well presented and informative.)

Three million people have checked out the AI course page since it was announced (now doubt driven by my blog post here), and course co-professor Peter Norvig reports that 35,000 students have stuck with the course and exams.  There are also 135 students taking the course onsite, Norvig is quoted as saying in the Good News site,

Now it is being reported that due to the great success of the program, Stanford plans to offer eight more computer science classes beginning in January. Being in the heart and brains of Silicon Valley, Stanford professors will also be offering two online courses on entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurship courses include Technology Entrepreneurship—a class on how to launch a successful startup, and The Lean Launchpad.

Here is a synopsis of the Lean Launchpad class (introduced in the video above), to be led by serial entrepreneur Steve Blank:

"In this class you'll learn how to turn a great idea into a great company. We now know that startups are not smaller versions of large companies. Large companies execute known business models. They use big company tools - business plans, income statements, revenue models, etc. to help organized their execution. In contrast startups search for a business model. And all the big company tools are irrelevant in the early days of a startup. This class is not about how to write a business plan. It's not an exercise on how smart you are in a classroom, or how well you use the research library. The end result is not a PowerPoint slide deck for a VC presentation. Instead you will be getting your hands dirty as you encounter the chaos and uncertainty of how a startup actually works..."

Here is a synopsis of the Technology Entrepreneurship class (video above), to be led by Stanford professor Chuck Eesley (who started three of his own companies, and worked with two venture capital firms):

"This class mixes in-depth case studies and research on the entrepreneurial process. For undergraduates of all majors who seek to understand the formation and growth of high-impact start-ups in areas such as information, green/clean, medical and consumer technologies. No prerequisites are necessary but the course is targeted at Juniors and Seniors."

Additional courses include Software as a Service, Computer Science 101, Machine Learning, Cryptography, Natural Language Processing, Human Computer Interaction, Design and Analysis of Algorithms I, and Probabilistic Graphic Models.

In a separate but related development, Stanford also says it has just released the iOS 5 incarnation of iPhone Application Development on iTunes U, where the public can download course lectures and slides for free. Some of the most talked-about features of Apple's latest operating system include iCloud, streamlined notifications and wireless syncing. When Stanford's first iPhone apps course appeared online in 2009, it made iTunes history by rocketing to a million downloads in just seven weeks.

(Much of this cross-posted at ZDNet Service-Oriented.)

Share this

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