Is Sebastian Thrun's Udacity The Future Of Higher Education? (Opinion)

Ann McClure's picture
Friday, July 6, 2012

Educators and policymakers have long dreamed of providing universal, low cost, first-class higher education. Their wish may come true soon thanks to an unlikely source: Silicon Valley.

The mecca of the technology universe is in the process of revolutionizing higher education in a way that educators, colleges and universities cannot, or will not.

One of the men responsible for what may be an Athens-like renaissance is Sebastian Thrun, Google's vice president and pioneer in artificial intelligence and robotics. Known in science circles for his engineering feats -- like Stanley, the self-driving car -- Thrun is using his technological prowess to make quality higher education available to the world. I recently interviewed him on my radio show, "Morning In America."

Last year, while teaching a graduate level artificial intelligence class at Stanford University, Thrun lamented that his course could only reach 200 students in the suburbs of Palo Alto. So, he decided to offer his own free online class, with the same homework, quizzes and tests that he gives to Stanford students.

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