Disruptive Activities in Learning

Disruptive Activities in Learning

Internet based learning will be viewed as one of the most significant disruptive forces for the human race. For our purposes here I am going to suggest it started with Salman Khan and his Khan Academy. In 2008 a not for profit educational organizational organization was started with the aim of providing free world class education to anyone, anywhere.

Move forward a bit and we find Udacity a learning business funded by Sebastian Thrun. Udacity is the result of free computer science classes offered in 2011 through Stanford. These were classes that Thrun offered on line which became Udacity. He has been called the “Godfather” of Free Online Education.

One day in 2011 he sat down in his living room and started to create an online class. He begins “Welcome to the first unit of Online Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.” Over the next three months the Professor offers the same lectures, homework assignments and exams to the masses as he does to the Stanford students. A computer handles the grading and students are steered to web discussion forums if they need extra help.   Some 160,000 people signed up for those classes.

Higher education is an enormous business in the US – we spend about $400 billion annually on Universities. Suddenly, something that had been unthinkable, that the internet might put a free, University caliber education within reach of the poor seems tantalizingly close. This information is available from Wikipedia.

But this is not the end of the story. Only 10% of the students actually finished the learning. Thrun calls this a painful moment. He is currently pivoting to a position that involves charging money for classes and abandoning academic disciplines in favor of more vocational focused learning.

The Time is Now.