Free online courses introducing Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Databases are attracting record numbers of students – and there is still time to sign up to join in.
Since we first reported the news that Professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig are putting the introductory course they teach at Stanford University online well over 100,000 prospective participants have signed up for it and a study group has formed at reddit.
Two other Stanford Computer Science courses are also joining in this "bold experiment in distributed education" in which students not only have access to lecture videos and other course materials but will actively participate by submitting assignments and getting regular feedback on their progress.
Online students who successfully complete their chosen course will receive a statement of accomplishment from the instructor, which will include information on how well you did and how your performance compared to other online students. Only students admitted to Stanford and enrolled in the regular course can receive credit or a grade, so this is not a Stanford certificate.
Lectures for Professor Andrew Ng's Machine Learning Course have been on You Tube since 2008 and over 200,000 people have viewed them. It is this popularity that has motivated the new online format in which lectures will be in convenient segments of around 10 minutes and all the course materials will be provided.
The prerequisite for the course is the ability to program in at least one language and there will be nine programming assignments to complete. Students will need to devote 8-10 hours per week; around two and half hours for to lectures and the rest to completing the associated homework. Over 25,000 prospective students have already signed up and there's a reddit group.
Almost as many students have already enrolled for Professor Jennifer Widom's Introduction to Databases which is also being split into short lectures and with all the technical content available for students to keep. As with the other two courses online students will be able to submit questions, but in view of the size of the online group these will be aggregated and the top-ranked questions will be answered by the professor and the teaching staff. There's more information about the course in this video:
The free online courses run from October 10 through December 16, 2011 and you can sign up now to receive further information prior to enrollment in September.
In addition to these interactive online certificated courses, the Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) portal offers video lectures, reading lists and materials and class assignments for Stanford's three-course Introduction to Computer Science: Programming Methodology (CS106A); Programming Abstractions (CS106B); Programming Paradigms (CS107) and seven more advanced courses in artificial intelligence and electrical engineering.