Daphne Koller and Coursera

Daphne Koller from Stanford informatics and Coursera gave a really interesting talk in Edinburgh earlier this week. For those of you who have been somewhere else over the last year,  Coursera have started to run large scale courses online. They are of course not the first to do this, but that is another issue. What was most interesting from her talk was the way they are trying to develop ways to scale learning. The issue here is a familiar one. We can all put videos and lecture notes online, but so what? This is not what a rich learning experience should be about. How can you provide feedback and interactivity on such a large scale (100,000 registrants over a few months). How can we shift achievement by the proverbial two sigma that we can see in intensive small group teaching.

She and colleague are clearly bringing some of their academic background in machine learning to the problem. She outlined a number of strategies for ‘clever’ marking and feedback, and peer-to-peer interaction. Early days yet, and her approaches are better suited to maths and computing, but the goal has to be to bend the curve relating cost to rich learning across the higher education spectrum, both to improve learning and making HE much more affordable . This will not pass medicine by.

Post by Jonathan Rees

Clinical academic and skin watcher at the University of Edinburgh

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