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The $100 Masters Degree From Udacity

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the hope-of-udacity dept.

Education 191

mikejuk writes "In an interview with Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, it was revealed that he hopes to offer a Masters degree for only $100, and is close to offering a full computer science degree. 'There are unfortunately some rough edges between our fundamental class CS101 and the next class up, when this is done I believe we can get an entire computer science education completely online and free and I think this is the first time this has happened in the history of humanity.' The latest course from Udacity is on statistics, and he is hoping to top the 160,000 sign up for his first online class on AI. It is also hoped to be the first class where students can visit a testing center to get their achievments formally certified."

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Master of First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343789)

it is me.

Re:Master of First Post (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343825)

Master of first dupe! [slashdot.org]

Future of Education (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343829)

This here is the future of education. Eventually we'll formalize this further by enabling a quick download directly to our brains that brings everyone up to speed fast regarding the facts of science, discipline, critical thinking, analysis.

What education will never be able to teach us is morality. Bertrand Russel, the great philosopher once was asked what he would offer the future generations.

Here is what he had to say about it [youtube.com] . He said two things, one intellectual and one moral; when you study any matter, ask yourself only what are the facts, and what is the truth that the facts bear out; the moral thing is love is wise, hatred is foolish.

With education like the $100 masters degree, we have the first part down fine. The rest of our development needs to focus on the second.

Re:Future of Education (2, Interesting)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343865)

This here is the future of education. Eventually we'll formalize this further by enabling a quick download directly to our brains that brings everyone up to speed fast regarding the facts of science, discipline, critical thinking, analysis.

It'll never happen.

First of all, there is an entrenched education style that has existed since the time of plato and aristotle, of a face to face student/teacher relationship. Also, We also have huge, multi-billion dollar institutions, with huge multi-national partnerships that ensure standardization within the education system. Direct downloads to our brains will not happen, for the same reason that we don't have jetpacks. It is too far in the future, and too complicated a technology - we're at a point where the question is still IF, not HOW.

Sure, the pendulum will swing towards online learning and decentralized institutions, but the traditional model of education has held up because it is (generally) robust, and closed to abuse. We'll probably see much more online education - and it'll be cheaper - but it won't be free, and it certainly won't be easy, and it will eventually become accessible to only the upper class (as education always is).

Re:Future of Education (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343941)

it will eventually become accessible to only the upper class (as education always is).

A famous man once said, give a man a fish, he eats today and owes you a fish forever. But teach a man to fish, and he'll be competing with you for fish tomorrow.

Re:Future of Education (5, Informative)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344015)

it will eventually become accessible to only the upper class (as education always is).

A famous man once said, give a man a fish, he eats today and owes you a fish forever. But teach a man to fish, and he'll be competing with you for fish tomorrow.

Another famous man (pratchett) said - Make a man a fire, you keep him warm for a day. Set a man on fire and you keep him warm for the rest of his life.

Re:Future of Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344689)

Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll spend Saturdays in a boat drinking beer.

Re:Future of Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344055)

We already have jetpacks. They haven't become widespread because they aren't practical, the current ones can only manage a very short amount of time in the air, then once you get the fuel tanks big enough to have a reasonable amount of flying time, you might as well use something more efficient like a helicopter. Direct brain downloads are indeed far too complicated, but I think if they became practical tomorrow in would be displace traditional teaching within 20 years, however they are probably too far in our future to predict what other contemporary technology will be like, we may instead prefer to upload our consciousnesses up to more capable artificial brains and ditch our biological bodies.

Re:Future of Education (5, Interesting)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344167)

I'm almost done with Udacity's free on-line robotic car course. It's fascinating, probably more for the new ideas in teaching than the actual course, though the course is pretty good. I don't know where this is heading, but the impact on the world of having 160,000 people take the online course has to outweigh the impact of teaching a lecture once a semester at Stanford.

The old system works, and offers opportunity for personal growth that's so far simply not available on line. I learned more from my peers in Berkeley undergrad engineering than from actual course work. I see no good online substitute for having a group of super-geek peers who love to hack stuff, build stuff, and pull off audacious stunts. Communicating by e-mail is just not the same as an all nighter group session of mathematical noodling on an unsolved problem.

So, somewhere there will be a new balance, where we take advantage of this super affordable access to learning, while somehow giving our young people a college experience. I don't know where it's heading, but it will be exciting to watch.

Re:Future of Education (4, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344793)

Ya, this is more an exercise in wondering how large classroom sizes could be, if you could seat 160k people in a room, and how much interaction you need with a human being on the other end.

Lots of professors would be quite happy to focus on research full time and not have to teach. Pick out the good teachers, the good textbooks, and just play a video of their lectures in a classroom for people who want to show up and interact with other students. The problem with that plan is that you don't then build personal relationships with professors or grad students or other students. Most of us who have done some sort of technical degree can point to an instance or two of a concept we just didn't get in lecture or from the book, and it took a TA or other students to explain it to us... eventually.

Research still needs to happen with or without the teaching component of universities. But the huge mentoring relationship that happens there, and the social connections, those are a major portion of the experience. How do you know if you want to be a researcher if you don't meet other researchers? A 100 dollar online course is about the same thing as a 100 dollar textbook just more interactive. Did you buy the book? Did you read the book? Or in the new media, did you watch the lecture? It's useful as a reference, it's probably not even bad to teach yourself. But it's not the same as going to university. In the real world you have to teach yourself a lot, whether thats from books or the web or whatever. So in that sense udacity probably will find a significant market in replacing textbooks with at least partially interactive web enabled experiences, for about the same price. It might also enable smaller schools to make available more esoteric topics they don't have expertise in, which is good.

Re:Future of Education (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343917)

Eventually we'll formalize this further by enabling a quick download directly to our brains that brings everyone up to speed fast regarding the facts of science, discipline, critical thinking, analysis.

I'm not sure that will work. A lot of my math professors (and physics profs) had open book tests. People still did as good or bad in them as without the books. Why? Because you can have a photographic memory, and memorize formulas and all that, but if you don't understand them or how to apply them, you're still boned. And with the limited time, there was no way someone could get up to speed and still finish the test.

Now maybe one day we'll be able to download understanding or at least have a program that stimulates the neural connections to make it happen, but I think putting things in our mental storage without letting our own CPU process them is kinda useless.

For example, what is the use of downloading the tenets of critical thinking if... you never think critically about them while doing so?

Re:Future of Education (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343947)

Bertrand Russel, ...

He could never get a real job. Philosophers, pffft.

Tell me about morality when I get my student loans paid off. Or when I don't have to compete with an impoverished Third World worker who will do the same job for a fraction of what I make.

And until $100 MS degrees are accepted by employers as legitimate, the only thing you can do is sell your future to the student loan lender so that you can get employed.

Anyway, what is "Morality"? Whose "morality"? Mention "morality" in a debate about war, abortion, environment, religion, ....

Have fun with that.

Re:Future of Education (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344003)

You have to pay off student loans and compete with an impoverished Third World workers because not enough people talk about morality.

We could all be harnessing modern technology to work 3 day weeks and live in ease and luxury. But we don't, because that's no fun for the people at the top.

education needs to be smaller chunks / apprentices (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343951)

Education needs to be in smaller chunks with more apprenticeship like teaching.

First off for some stuff like IT 2-4 years in the class room is to much even more so at CS where there is a BIG skills gap from say a TECH School.

Also in IT there should be apprenticeship like teaching so people can get the needed hands on skills.

To days colleges seem to have to much gen edus and to much filler (now that time and cost can be better off being used) learning real job skills doing real work (no internships) apprenticeship where you do real work (no coffee boys like some internships) and you don't sit in class room for 2-4 years with out really getting out there and to work.

Lot's of jobs don't need 4 years of pure class room when some kind of mixed community college / tech / voc school / apprenticeship / on going learning / online is a better fit at a lower cost.

Re:education needs to be smaller chunks / apprenti (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344011)

In reality, we have given colleges simply too much power by indoctrinating everyone about the wonders of education and always equating it as going to college. If you think about it, training people has shifted from the burden of a company to the burden and cost of the individual for, imo, no greater gain. Wages and the like have been stagnant or worse since the 1970s. But it's not all roses for the company either, often they have to train the workers anyway after college.

So much of school is just theory when most people simply learn by doing. It's like trying to learning to cook by reading a book and then doing a dish or two at the end of every semester. Just not going to work if you want to be a line cook at a good restaurant.

online is a better fit then the college time table (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343967)

online is a better fit then the fixed college time tables.

Re:Future of Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343981)

everyone up to speed fast regarding the facts of science

Facts with or without creationists-patchset?

Re:Future of Education (1)

craigminah (1885846) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343999)

$100 degrees and the ability to download information right into our brains will devalue a degree to the point where you're punished for not having one. Then everyone will need a doctorate to stand out...until there are either $100 doctorates and/or downloadable doctoral information into the brain. Either way we're just increasing the minimum threshhold to stand out. The real money is in gathering, sifting, and publishing that information for download...then we'll also need someone to oversee that information and make sure people don't inject "viruses" like information contrary to real life experience that lead people down the wrong path. Ultimately, this is a horrible idea as governments will use this to program and control us.

Re:download information (0)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344137)

You almost had it ...

In some ways we're almost at the end of the Science Fiction Age because the gaps between what will stay fiction for a long time vs what will show up in 2017 are starting to become clearer. Starships and transporters - not gonna happen in my lifetime. Fully developed augmented reality glasses - 2 more generations of tech away, aka 2014 and then 2017 or so. Pretty easy.

The reason you can't quite "download" information that easily is that people learn by making new live neural pathways among information, and there are hard limits to that. But ... wait for it ... there aren't for AI's! Once all that is pre-processed somewhere, assuming no money distractions, just buy a module for your AI and plug it in and off you go!

It's up there for the top 5 racial fears we have. We did pretty well for a long time ... we kept playing "no true scotsman", scoffing at early stages of things. First it was chess, but then "oh fooey, chess is not intelligence". Then it was Jeopardy. But Jeopardy is more dangerous - because if you can understand *obfuscated* english, then once you get past a few of the knowledge gaps, you can start slamming together expert system modules with the english interface. Think Siri the third generation.

Re:Future of Education (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344785)

Just because they have the degree doesn't mean they will be able to utilize the knowledge.

There are plenty of pinheads out there with degrees who have never been able to get decent jobs.

Re:Future of Education (3, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344839)

$100 degrees and the ability to download information right into our brains will devalue a degree to the point where you're punished for not having one.

We're already at that point with degrees which cost $50,000+. A reduction of that to $100 would be a step forward.

I've got a bachelors degree and 20+ years of experience in software development. I need a masters degree in CS like I need a third eye in the center of my forehead. Yet I see a lot of jobs out there demanding the Masters nowadays, and with applicant tracking systems being the way they are, that means if you don't have one your resume/application will be discarded before ever being seen by a human being. A $100 Masters would be just the ticket to avoid that. (Sure, it wouldn't be accredited... these tracking systems wouldn't know that)

Re:Future of Education (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344889)

Then there is Photoshop....

Re:Future of Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344895)

Not for those of us who judge people on their actual real-world accomplishments, rather than what degrees they hold.

It's easy to stand out if you're good.

Re:Future of Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344069)

Eventually we'll formalize this further by enabling a quick download directly to our brains

(Devil's Advocate) Do you think the boldface part of the above text will be used for education... or "re-education"? The book Brave New World comes to mind.

What education will never be able to teach us is morality.

These days, we commonly confuse schooling with education. I think morality is one of the first things a TRUE education provides. Education is about making something of yourself and understanding how you relate to the world around you, and contemplating the great mysteries, like what comes after death; it's about much, much more than knowing dry facts like "in 1492 Columbus sailed the deep blue".

Education is only tangentially related to schooling now that we have factory schools oriented entirely around producing uneducated automatons to fill job openings in our economy. In the western world, the single most important moral authority for the last several centuries has got to be the holy bible. But since that supreme court case (Everson v. Board of Education), schools have been forbidden to discuss religion/spirituality/supernatural beliefs in any serious context, even though religion has been a big factor in determining the course of just about all western history. I say all this as an atheist - I'm not a christian, but I'm not blind to the non-stop low-level hostility towards religion and supernatural beliefs that goes on in public schools. You can read up on what I'm on about here [johntaylorgatto.com] .

Still, if they start handing out $100 bachelor's or masters' degrees, I'll probably buy one. I never finished college - I had a severe bout of depression and concomitant polydrug abuse 2 years into it when I realized my entire natural childhood was spent in a minimum-security prison and that I was horrified of any social situation that wasn't 100% organized. Since then, my attitude towards school is "never again". I decided that going back to school would probably drive me to suicide. So I only have a high school diploma to my name, and most hiring mangers these days are too stupid and prejudiced to believe I'm qualified to do anything other than clean toilets.

Degrees and titles and official credentials are like police - they're symptoms of a deep problem in society. The more of them you find, the sicker society is - people should be able to learn stuff and behave themselves without official guidance.

But back on topic... thank you for linking to that Bertrand Russell video. I always feel inspired after I hear that guy speak.

Re:Future of Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344237)

Watch salaries go down.

Don't get me wrong, I think free (or, in this case, totally affordable) education for everyone is absolutely awesome. I am not arguing that it should be blocked or resisted at all. But I *am* pointing out that this will raise the supply of educated labor, which will invariably lower the price. Further, you will see low-end blue collar jobs start requiring degrees, not because the degrees are necessary, but because such labor is now abundantly available.

Re:Future of Education (3, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344827)

If you are enough of a self starter to take and finish an online degree, you are enough of a self starter to start and run your own business. Then your "salary" will only depend on the quality of your work and market demand for your product. Then it comes down to having the right product at the right time, same as it has always been. The difference being that now businesspeople can empower themselves with knowledge without taking on debt. There is no set of circumstances where that isn't a major plus for humanity.

Re:Future of Education (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344539)

Maybe, maybe not.

The idea of a $100 master's degree is subversive, especially considering that a master's is the basic qualification to hold a professorship at a modern university. It attacks the one of the main roles that academic degrees have assumed in our society: being a certification of social class. If there's any doubt of that consider this: recent studies have shown that the average amount of time college students spend studying has dropped from 24 hours/week to 15. Some have put the current figure as low as 10-13 hours/week spent outside of class. Even engineering students spend a mere nineteen hours per week outside of class; today's *nerds* spend five fewer hours per week studying than the average student in their grandparent's generation.

This lack of rigor is reflected in how degrees are used after graduation. Most jobs that require a nonspecific bachelor's degree (i.e. not in an area like engineering) could be done by an intelligent and well-read high school graduate. Many jobs that require master's degrees could be done by a bachelor's degree holder in that field. It is difficult (although obviously not impossible) for someone who has to work to put bread on the table to obtain those kinds of credentials. So a bachelor's degree reflects having middle class parents more than it does intelligence, knowledge, or intellectual sophistication.

Now if you can get the actual education for $100, then there'd be no justification to withhold accreditation from a program like this. That would mean that *anybody* could get degrees to use as a credential provided they can do the work. That would completely undermine the higher education system in the country as it now stands. It might spell the end of widespread college education.

Good and bad (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343851)

Good
- anyone can take the course
- it's very affordable

Bad
- how ya gonna stop cheating? With an entirely remote degree course you can't. Therefore, to an employer, it's not worth much.

(Yeah, sure, whatever, start the snark about how degrees aren't worth anything anyway, I disagree)

Re:Good and bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343871)

From the summary: It is also hoped to be the first class where students can visit a testing center to get their achievments formally certified.

Re:Good and bad (0)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344053)

OK, I scanned the summary *&and* the article and didn't pick up on that.

FAIL.

Re:Good and bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343889)

"Bad- how ya gonna stop cheating? With an entirely remote degree course you can't

I know you don't like to read the article, or visit the website. But you could, at the very least, read the fucking summary before posting your drivel.

"It is also hoped to be the first class where students can visit a testing center to get their achievments formally certified.""

Re:Good and bad (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343893)

There are plenty of accredited universities that offer fully online MBA's and other graduate degree programs. I have a friend who's getting his MBA from University of Liverpool this autumn. It's taken him about the same as it would have if he'd gone to a brick and mortar university, and he worked just as hard online as he would have in class. Whether someone cheats and gets by with it is up to the professor.

Re:Good and bad (4, Insightful)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343909)

It's really really unfortunate that you used MBA as an example.

Re:Good and bad (2)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343953)

Especially since here, cheating and getting away with it earns bonus credit!

stop cheating? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343959)

well most work is group based and open book.

But what does craming based tests really test????

Re:stop cheating? (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344267)

It's not the specific techniques I'm questioning, just the verification of identity.

I agree that in the new, connected world it makes less sense than ever to have the traditional closed-book test in an exam room. In the real world you'll always be able to look stuff up.

However I always liked the tests, and I still think they force you to become familiar with the material to the extent that you can show, in a short time, that you can apply a lot of the techniques that you've learned. This is valuable, IMHO.

Re:Good and bad (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344115)

- how ya gonna stop cheating? With an entirely remote degree course you can't. Therefore, to an employer, it's not worth much.

As opposed to IRL courses? People cheat their way through "valuable" degree programs all the time, and employers do not really care. Those employers who are really concerned with whether their students actually know what their degree asserts they should know give job candidates tests.

Yeah, sure, whatever, start the snark about how degrees aren't worth anything anyway, I disagree

Considering the number of people I have met with a BS in CS who cannot even explain the P vs. NP problem, I think that at least a large number of degrees in CS are poor certifications of knowledge.

Re:Good and bad (3, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344231)

As opposed to IRL courses? People cheat their way through "valuable" degree programs all the time, and employers do not really care. Those employers who are really concerned with whether their students actually know what their degree asserts they should know give job candidates tests.

Sure but if it's all through the computer, how do you know they didn't just get someone else to do it for them, for another hundred bucks?

(yes, I now realise this is not what is proposed in TFA)

Considering the number of people I have met with a BS in CS who cannot even explain the P vs. NP problem, I think that at least a large number of degrees in CS are poor certifications of knowledge.

I've been a software engineer for 12 years now, and many things I learned for my CD degree at university have benefited my work immensely.

Not that though.

Re:Good and bad (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344243)

stupid fingers.... CS degree.

Re:Good and bad (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344293)

Sure but if it's all through the computer, how do you know they didn't just get someone else to do it for them, for another hundred bucks?

You think having a human standing there watching people helps? I have seen students hide thumb drives under their desks, so that the next set of students taking a CS101 exam can cheat. I have seen students writing codes of dots and shapes on the sides of exams to pass answers on to their friends. I have seen students pay for their homework to be done by other students.

People who are not interested in learning, who just want a job ticket, seem to have little difficulty with cheating at current universities.

I've been a software engineer for 12 years now, and many things I learned for my [CS] degree at university have benefited my work immensely.

Not that though.

That is because a CS degree is not a vocational IT associates degree or some sort of vocational certification; computer science is a well developed field that covers more than just "how to program using an object oriented language." The P vs. NP problem is not just an important theoretical problem, it is a problem with immense practical significance. That is why it is considered one of the most important questions in computer science, as opposed to other, lesser-known questions about lower bounds (e.g. the 3SUM problem).

Re:Good and bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344511)

Cheat all you want, you will still need to convince me you can ship production quality code.

Disagree all you want, I don't so much as even bother to look at educational background during a interview.

Re:Good and bad (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344843)

You can't cheat on the in person qualification exam. Or rather, you can't cheat any more easily than someone cheating their way through a regular program could.

Mass Produced education. (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343869)

I am on the fence with this.
The only way you can get $100 for a degree in education is to mass produce it. Pre-Recorded Lectures, Online articles, Mutable choice tests, all done online. Now granted some colleges nearly teach like that, a professor with a well practiced rehearsed lectures, then you do you multiple choice tests, then you got your class credit...
While you may learn, and can get accreditation. It creates a culture of mediocre education. This takes out some of the human elements that are both good and bad. If you are able being able to be noticed by a professor and working with them on his research, having your work properly critiqued.
When I went to college for Computer Science, I came in already knowing how to program, and I was working programming, but I wanted to learn more then just the core requirements, I wanted to learn the nuances. While some students in my class who passed they got the basics, I was able to use education and the work directly with my professors to hone my skills and make me better. I know I used up more then $100 expense on my education.

However I think a hybrid approach would be a good match. There are some classes, that I didn't like spending thousands of dollars on, just because I had to take them, I would much rather pay a lower rate, and take the mediocre online class to get the credit, and save some money. But save the classes I am actually interested in with live people and professors.

Re:Mass Produced education. (2)

Dr Fro (169927) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343923)

I'll second your statement in the first paragraph. It may not be the best option, but I don't see what you're describing isn't equivalent to half of my classes where I only ever saw the TA teach, or the Prof was there but simply read off slides. A Prof that only teaches to justify a salary isn't better than a pre-recorded lecture.

Re:Mass Produced education. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343945)

You obviously didn't complete any classes on grammar.

Your "more then $100 expense" and entire last two sentences break my brain.

Re:Mass Produced education. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344457)

The whole fucking post made my brain hurt.

Get OFF the fence and pony up the $100 already.

Re:Mass Produced education. (5, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343985)

"However I think a hybrid approach would be a good match. There are some classes, that I didn't like spending thousands of dollars on, just because I had to take them, I would much rather pay a lower rate, and take the mediocre online class to get the credit, and save some money. But save the classes I am actually interested in with live people and professors."

With absolutely no offense intended, what you want makes perfect sense, but it is more of a technical certification than a college degree.

A college degree is an indication that the student is well-rounded, has a breadth of knowledge and not just depth of knowledge in a particular area, as with a technical certification. There is nothing wrong with a technical certification (think "Master Plumber or Electrician", not MSCE).

The classes you dismiss (classes you "had to take") don't have to be of interest to you, but are the differentiator between a college degree and a technical certification. If someone presents themselves to me as a graduate of, say, Harvard, with a CS degree, I expect them to know more that computer science topics - I expect them to be fairly well-rounded. But that (apparently) isn't what you want, nor is it likely what your potential employers are looking for particularly, but the college degree is the only game in town to denote a certain level of education on a subject.

Re:Mass Produced education. (3, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344311)

Is this just a US attitude though?

In the UK there is no requirement to take other subjects during the course of a degree. You go to university to study one subject, and you study that subject only.

Hell, I dropped all non-science/math subjects at the age of 15, with my full-time education from then until graduation entirely devoted to physics, chemistry, mathematics and CS.

Re:Mass Produced education. (1)

mdf356 (774923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344543)

It may be U.S. only (I hope so!) Others can talk all they want about "well-rounded" but the economic reality is that English, History, etc., courses do not produce graduates who earn more money. And so the only way those departments survive, since they can't on their own merits, is by forcing all students, some of whom *will* increase their earning potential, to take them.

It's pure economics -- there's a bunch of economically useless professors, who have plenty of time to petition the President of the school or the state legislature about why their brand of "well-rounded" is so useful, and thereby gain a fraction of a lot of student's tuition, instead of the very small piece they'd otherwise have.

Now ask yourself this: is college the only time in my life I am able to read classical literature or study art history or any of these other things that somehow make one well-rounded? Of course not. So the idea that one needs to study this in college is ludicrous, except to those departments that don't produce economic value trying to justify their existence.

Re:Mass Produced education. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344549)

He didn't say he was opposed to taking non interesting/ non core classes only that it would make more sense if these classes were online also/instead.

Re:Mass Produced education. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344743)

When many people talk about a "well rounded" college education what they really mean is that they want college to filter out people they consider to be "uncouth". When you finally tease it out of them you go on to discover that they really just don't want to be around anyone whose upbringing didn't inject them directly into the upper middle class. The more expensive the college, the more blatant this becomes.

Now, those of you reading this can either fight this (pointlessly) or put on your business suits, read your Economist, know when to be quiet, and learn to use the right fork. That's the "well rounded" part of college that everyone keeps talking about but won't say because they're too busy dancing around the issue like the academics they were birthed from.

Re:Mass Produced education. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344067)

What are "mutable choice tests", do they allow you to change your answers after you have taken them?

Hopefully it will modulate current universities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343877)

This is an intriguing idea. I don't know if it is fully the future of education but my hope is that it will be disruptive enough to modulate current universities. Why do we have professors giving the same lecture time and time again? I think the argument that a professor can take questions is also somewhat silly, most of my professors in engineering only took a few questions, and if they did it generally only helped the confused soul who asked the question. It seems to me that having video lectures and office hours, or perhaps the TA directed study sessions, would lower costs overall. Students wouldn't have to worry about scheduling conflicts and they could view the lectures as time allows. Professors would have more time probably to engage in research.

Of course, for this to work it also seems like the professors would have to follow the book closely. I hated it when I had to buy an expensive book that was nearly useless as the professor took a totally different approach. If the lecture and reading generally tracked each other I tended to learn much better.

Missing the point (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343911)

It really isn't about the cost totaly. His point is that going to school, mastering some aspect of a field and going about your way for the rest of your life isn't working anymore. We constantly have to re-invent ourselves with new skills because things change so rapidly. Udacity will aid in solving that problem and make it cost effective.

Re:Missing the point (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344025)

A real education isn't about job training.

Re:Missing the point (2)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344885)

Then try getting a job without an education.

Re:Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344929)

Let me guess: philosophy major?

Re:Missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344983)

Let me guess: retard?

Re:Missing the point (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344219)

We constantly have to re-invent ourselves with new skills because things change so rapidly.

On the surface, things may change rapidly. Fundamentally, though, things change slowly. A trendy language or toolkit is just a surface change, perhaps one that introduces a new style of programming. On the other hand, beneath the surface, things have not changed all that much; we still have object oriented programming, we still have relational databases and ORMs, parallel programming is still hard and poorly understood, we still have the three tiered (or N-tiered) model, etc. Styles, names, and trends change quickly, but fundamental issues and designs do not.

Key Word "Hope" (5, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343915)

It isn't news that someone "hopes" to do something, and the gap between offering a complete Computer Science Masters Degree and working out the "rough edges between our fundamental class CS101 and the next class up" state they are in now is quite immense.

Decoded: They are having a problem coming up with a second semester CS class.

This works out to about $10/class I figure, maybe less - I fully suspect the degree they will offer is worth every penny, but not a penny more - and you won't "fool" anyone with this Masters degree, this is on the same level as the mail-order priest ordinations that were once offered in the back of magazines like Rolling Stone.

Re:Key Word "Hope" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344093)

this is on the same level as the mail-order priest ordinations that were once offered in the back of magazines like Rolling Stone.

That jogged my memory. It seems that C. I. E. [cie-wc.edu] , the old mail order electronics degree shop that used to advertise in the back pages of Marvel comics alongside Charles Atlas, is alive and kicking.

Re:Key Word "Hope" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344181)

Those ordinations are legal in 48 states. Are you full of crap or what?

Re:Key Word "Hope" (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344459)

They use hexamesters so CS102 would be the next 1/6 of a year..

Re:Key Word "Hope" (4, Insightful)

mdf356 (774923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344577)

I fully suspect the degree they will offer is worth every penny, but not a penny more - and you won't "fool" anyone with this Masters degree

I, as a interviewer, won't be "fooled". But since I work with some brilliant software people who never got a college degree, it won't necessarily be a barrier to getting at least a phone interview. If the interviewee knows their stuff, it doesn't matter how they learned it.

I mean, with someone who has 20 years experience, do you care if they went to Harvard, Stanford, or the University of Kansas? Of course not, you care if they're smart and have some relevant skills. A lot of times as an interviewer I don't even care if they have the relevant skills (i.e. I work in the storage industry, but candidates don't need to know anything about storage or filesystems to get a job here -- I certainly didn't know that when I started).

As an interviewer I care about two things, essentially: can you think, and do you understand some CS theory? If you can do the first but don't know the second, you can still get a job, we just won't start you as a senior level engineer.

No thesis/dissertation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40343921)

I personally see no value in this kind of master's degree if there is no need to write a thesis/dissertation.

Re:No thesis/dissertation? (1)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344027)

I personally see no value in this kind of master's degree if there is no need to write a thesis/dissertation.

So, course-based masters programs are of no value, huh? Tell that to the thousands of course-based masters grads.

Re:No thesis/dissertation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344221)

I'm in a course-based masters program. I kind of wish I had the opportunity to write a thesis, but I don't. The flip side is that many of my classes are production-based, and most of my classes have left me with portfolio-ready work that I'm really damn proud of. In fact, everything but my introductory, statistics/research methods, and theory courses have given me something I can show off.

But I could see such a program being bunk if it's not done well. I try to be picky about what courses I take. If I could get the equivalent education and portfolio pieces by reading a "Learn X in 21 Days" book, then I do that instead.

The other key piece is the relationships between your program and the job market. In this regard, I would rate my program as excellent. Between all of my classes, it's not uncommon to have potential employers visit once or twice a week in a small classroom environment to guest lecture or review our work. I've gotten multiple job offers from this interaction.

This is the value in my masters program. Anybody can take classes. But if you don't come out of it with a increase in who-you-know and some solid examples of what-you-can-do, then it's probably not going to boost your earnings potential that much. That said, programs like this are NOT geared towards those who want to go towards a PhD. It makes me a little sad I haven't had more opportunity for long-form research, but if that's what you really want to do, you're probably not interested in this discussion anyway. Real research is a full-time+ pursuit that usually requires relocating and giving up on other dreams (and income).

Re:No thesis/dissertation? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344525)

The market will take care of telling them that.

Re:No thesis/dissertation? (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344305)

Most of us write them every day, otherwise known as production code.

Re:No thesis/dissertation? (2)

mdf356 (774923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344587)

I personally see no value in this kind of master's degree if there is no need to write a thesis/dissertation.

The value for me of a course-based M.S. (dropout from a PhD program) was $6000 per year starting salary. That's a pretty decent bump that I likely kept with me my whole career, as raises tend to be percentage based. So after 11 years it may have been worth at least $66k.

Oh, and also I learned a bunch of stuff in those courses I hadn't yet learned as an undergrad. To my recollection, none of the specific things has been relevant to my job, but it is sometimes hard to tell.

"In the history of humanity" (4, Funny)

Kijori (897770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343971)

Is it really necessary to explain that this is the first time anyone has offered a CS degree online in the history of humanity?

We're talking about a course about computing offered entirely over the internet. Surely if it hasn't been done recently we can be pretty sure that the Ancient Greeks didn't beat us to it?

Re:"In the history of humanity" (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344155)

Is it really necessary to explain that this is the first time anyone has offered a CS degree online in the history of humanity?

We're talking about a course about computing offered entirely over the internet. Surely if it hasn't been done recently we can be pretty sure that the Ancient Greeks didn't beat us to it?

We only know of one Antikythera mechanism. The job market for keeping it running was limited at best.

Besides, the Sophists were the ones with the resume' writing courses -- CS102 as I recall.

Re:"In the history of humanity" (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344259)

Waaait. The Romans didn't offer Pompeii Whore Simulation seminars?

Re:"In the history of humanity" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344567)

Open University invented the concept of distance learning for university degrees
  Fun to watch when the other three channels were off air.

Nothing (really) new (1)

giuseppemag (1100721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40343975)

Computer Science degrees have been publicly available since the birth of the modern Internet: most papers and tutorials, ranging from basic programming language introductions to lambda calculus and AI, have been freely available for years for whoever is curious about the topics.

The things that a university really offers are accreditation that you have truly mastered the topics and professionals who put together a reasonable, sequential curriculum and help you absorb it. Did they solve it here? Doesn't seem so...

Also, European universities are essentially free, at least for their good students: an Italian PhD student has a total net cost of about -20000 euros, that is after your PhD between scholarships and taxes you have earned 20k (personal experience!).

So this is really of limited interest, and it is so only for the US...

Re:Nothing (really) new (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344245)

The things that a university really offers are accreditation that you have truly mastered the topics

Does it though? I am discouraged by the number of CS graduates who cannot explain basic, fundamental questions like the P vs. NP problem. A lot of schools seem to only require that their CS graduates be able to write a few moderately challenging programs, and even then, only in a particular programming language or class of languages.

Re:Nothing (really) new (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344287)

PvNP may have been covered at my university, I don't remember. It certainly wasn't given the import you seem to think it deserves, and this is from a university that taught classes in at least 8 languages over the course, with the expectation that you learned to program them outside of the class as in class they were being used to demonstrate principles.

Maybe a lot of schools do have programmes that lack academic rigour, or maybe you're just focussed weirdly.

Re:Nothing (really) new (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344901)

Well, PvNP is mostly interesting because it's unsolved. If back at the dawn of computing theory some pioneer proved P!=NP, the problem would be a mere footnote (and if they proved P=NP, the field would be very different). But the notion of algorithmic complexity classes is pretty important, and I'd be suspicious of a computer science degree program which didn't include them.

Re:Nothing (really) new (1)

mdf356 (774923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344621)

My colleagues have interviewed new college graduates in CS who don't know big-O notation. That's a pre-requisite for understanding P versus NP. Though to be fair, there's a broad swath of problems one can solve for an employer where the algorithms don't reach that combinatoric complexity, and the data sets aren't large enough to make O(n^2) with low constants worse too often compared to O(n lg n) with high constants.

Now way these are grad classes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344059)

I'm taking the CS101 class right now, as I just want to learn python. I already have an MSEE from 16 years ago. While excellent, CS101 is nowhere near a graduate level course; where are the CS500 - 800? Same goes for the statistics course. Not sure how they intend to use these as graduate level classes.

Course material is not an education (5, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344151)

An education is more than that. It's sitting through hours of lectures where students ask questions and topics are discussed at length, not only with the professor but with other students outside of class. It's submitting work and having it critiqued by an expert. It's discussing why your answers were wrong or incomplete. It's discussing why you have answers your professor never thought of but are still correct or more correct than what he was expecting. It's deciding what out-of-major classes are of interest to you or would further your education in your chosen field. It's telling your not-in-major friends about insights you learned from your classes that are applicable to everybody and listening to the same thing from them. Most of these things simply can't be automated and many of them can't be done as well on line. None of them can be done for $100 a degree.

None of that can be force-fed to you one-way down a wire. Education is interactive.

Real education can be had over the internet, but it's NOT the same and not as valuable as learning in-person, and it will never be cheap (unless somebody else is paying for it) and it will always take as long or nearly as long as the traditional route. It just takes that long to have that experience and absorb and digest that much information.

Re:Course material is not an education (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344291)

Realize that some of us do not need to be force-fed information we are quite capable of performing this feat on our own.

The only times I have visited a university was to assist CS professors in teaching a class.

I do realize however that I am a exception to the rule and yes 90% of the general public will need to be force-fed.

Re:Course material is not an education (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344317)

Realize that some of us do not need to be force-fed information we are quite capable of performing this feat on our own.

The only times I have visited a university was to assist CS professors in teaching a class.

I do realize however that I am a exception to the rule and yes 90% of the general public will need to be force-fed.

I find that highly credible.

Re:Course material is not an education (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344429)

Ok you got me, yes that is totally impossible.

Re:Course material is not an education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344365)

I think you're missing the possibilities here.

Who said it has to be one way?

Look at online language study, where there are many different ways to interact with people. Plus, online language learning gives you accurate definitions/pronunciations/sentences and instant grading of your responses. In some ways it's better than learning from a native. In my opinion it's significant better than traditional language classes, as well as being vastly cheaper.

Language study is a slightly unusual case in that there's a lot of simple, well documented material out there that you simply have to learn -- vocabulary, more or less. But I can certainly entertain the possibility of it working for more complex, structured topics.

Re:Course material is not an education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344491)

Discuss things at length on the Internet. The big advantages are you are not limited to geographic location, and not limited to the knowledge of people who happen to be near you. Education as we know it was designed in Napoleon's time. Availability of books and people with knowledge was centered. It is an outdated concept, further corrupted by the business and career side of things.

Re:Course material is not an education (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344563)

I disagree. My engineering classes had 60+ people in them. No time to ask questions. No discussions. And in my opinion, the quality of the lectures were poor. Not much better than just learning from the textbook on one's own. And this was from the best eng. program in Canada.

Don't misunderstand. I'm no proponent of the $100 method under discussion. But I do think that the university system needs a big kick in the pants. I've worked with professors and some are good friends. But in our discussions, the catch phrase keeps coming up: "we're not here to teach, we're here to teach how to learn". This is a big cop-out and provides a means to avoid any responsibility for some of the poor lecturing I've experienced.

When the students start catching mistakes in the lectures on the blackboard - someone needs a job review.......

Re:Course material is not an education (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344659)

Real education can be had over the internet, but it's NOT the same and not as valuable as learning in-person

I agree that education "over the internet" is not the same as learning in person — but I'd completely disagree that it is not as valuable as learning "in-person." I am, perhaps, entirely biased about this, since I am coming to the end of a programme delivered entirely online, but this might just mean I can also contribute from experience:

For me, studying my masters online has been far more valuable to me than learning in person. I work, and I travel a lot — fitting in classes at a particular time, at a particular location, would have been a real struggle for me. Instead, the ability to listen to lectures at times convenient to me, and then discuss with students and the tutors online, has been very valuable indeed — far more people have asked questions on this course than they did during my (traditional) undergraduate degree. I know my tutors far, far better coming off this programme than I did at undergraduate level — perhaps just an importantly, they have said that they know their students far better than those whom they teach in their offline / blended learning courses.

For me, learning is not about having content shoved at me, which was, all too often, what seems to be classed as education. For what I study, I can easily find the materials online (even before using university credentials to access subscription journals and so on), and have read huge amounts more than I did at undergraduate level — in turn, I've spent hours just thinking and writing, and deleting, and writing it again. Whenever I've submitted an assessment, I've asked for detailed feedback from my tutors — why did I get this mark, what would I needed to have done to have got a higher mark, why a certain comment was made and so on. I haven't always agreed with the rationale but, having built up the relationship, I was able to argue why their position was wrong, and continue the discussion — this never happened in my traditional course but, when each party can communicate at a convenient time, it becomes a lot easier, to my mind.

The challenge, though, is getting everyone, or even "enough" people, involved — I've no problem sharing my views, and posting thoughts on our blogs, and responding to others, but I'm still in the minority. Still more discussion than at undergraduate, but still the minority, which is a shame. Perhaps it is frightening — perhaps people are studying remotely to cram in to a packed life, and do not make the time to contribute — whatever the reason, my view is that they are *really* missing out, just like those who sit at the back of lecture theatres, and sit silently in tutorials. But the software is there — the possibilities are there — students just need to make that leap.

It's been an amazing experience, and has not been a solitary exercise, even if I would have liked more discussion and debate — just because I'm sitting in a cafe, rather than sitting in a classroom, has not degraded the learning experience at all and, much the opposite, has meant I've been able to interact with a far more diverse range of students than could have attended a fixed-location, offline program.

Re:Course material is not an education (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344663)

How is that substantially different to online collaboration, like we're doing right now? Some people just want to learn, they aren't interested in academic politics or filler classes. If they can now get a respectable certification, its a giant leap.

flawed idea (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344315)

While the students may become knowledgeable in a subject I doubt many employers would give Joey with his Masters degree from Udacity a job over someone with a Masters degree or even a Bachelors degree from an established mainstream university or college. If the applicant had experience as well, possibly, but not a new grad.

Re:flawed idea (2)

green1 (322787) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344509)

And here you highlight the biggest problem with the system. There is absolutely no reason why an education needs to break the bank, or why we can't develop an online method of doing it.
But a formal education isn't really about teaching you things, its about convincing an employer to hire you. You can know more about a subject than anyone else on the planet, but unless the employer sees paperwork to back it up, you won't even get an interview.
How do they plan to convince employers that this isn't just another of those many mail order degree scams?

Re:flawed idea (1)

mdf356 (774923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344643)

Are you part of the interviewing process where you work? I am, and while I can't say what HR or our recruiter might do, I often don't even look at the part of the resume that lists where a candidate was educated, except for curiosity. I still need a candidate to prove to me that s/he can program and can think, and their educational source is only tangentially related in my experience.

Wish I had this (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344467)

I wouldn't trade this for a college education but this would have been pure platinum if it had been around when I was in grade school.

$100... (3, Funny)

fysdt (1597143) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344481)

One does not simply get a Master's degree for $100.

Re:$100... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344945)

They do if the professors and administrators are not scumbags.

Problem is most professors want to drive Mercedes and live in 5800sq foot mansions and school admins want 2X that.

Cut out the greed in higher education, and suddenly affordable degrees will surface.

I already offer an online Masters for $50 (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344513)

And the good news is, mine is equally as accredited as the one from Udacity.

Re:I already offer an online Masters for $50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40344707)

Throw in a ordainment as a minister and I'll take that deal.

Re:I already offer an online Masters for $50 (1)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344943)

Don't waste your money on online degrees. I'll sell you a legitamate, non-online* degree for the bargain basement price of $39.99. That's less that $40! You won't find a better deal anywhere.

You wanna be a minister too? I'll throw in a Ph. P (preacher of philosophy) for only $9.99 more. What a deal!!!

* allow 6-8 weeks for your degree to arrive in the mail.

Snore (4, Insightful)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344527)

Computer Science? Snooze. I already do that. I want an online degree program in physics, or geology, or something. I want to study the interesting stuff that I didn't do in school because I sold out and went the path that would make me shitloads of money instead of shitloads on happiness and intellectual fulfillment.

And $100.00 wasted.... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40344925)

If it's not accredited. You might as well buy a master degree from on of the other fake uni's online. They sell Masters degrees for less than $100.

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