Using Energy and Resources from Space to Raise Living Standards of Across Earth
While Expanding Free Independent Human Societies Throughout the Universe

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Massively Open Online Course Integration

“Ships and sails proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. 
Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the vastness of space.”
Johannes Kepler to Galileo Galilei, 1609
"The truth is online learning is very new. We're still figuring all of this out."
Sebastian Thrun

Online educators are invited to write quick, short scenes for home demonstrating course lessons in real-world applications on a Martian research settlement or tele-robotic asteroid mining operation. Think of this as product placement for new ideas. To advertise a course or highlight an important lesson, educators are encouraged to submit dialogue-based scenes relevant to actual science and engineering challenges applicable to home. Submissions do not need more than a few sentences of dialogue, but should be more than mere scene descriptions. Course integration would take place through the narrative of home via dialogue. (For example, write one or more characters on Mars or Earth actually speaking...rather than "tell us what happens" it happening, accompanied by actual dialogue...hopefully humorous, not self-depricatory, upbeat.)

“I normally teach 400 students,” Ng explained, but last semester he taught 100,000 in an online course on machine learning. “To reach that many students before,” he said, “I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced the launch of edX, a transformational partnership in online distance learning. Through edX@Home, the two institutions will collaborate with home to enhance campus-based teaching through course material written into episodes  (even showing an inter-planetary community of online learners).

MIT and Harvard expect that over time other universities and entertainment entities will join them in offering courses on the edX platform. Collaborative courses involve video lesson segments, embedded quizzes, immediate feedback, student-ranked questions and answers, online laboratories, and student paced learning. Real-world applications are shown in each episode in Home to accompany online coursework.

“EdX represents a unique opportunity to improve education on our own campuses through online learning, while simultaneously creating a bold new educational path for millions of learners universe-wide,” MIT President Susan Hockfield said.

A person can no longer obtain a degree at 20 or 25 and then expect to be educated for the rest of their career. "It is important to understand education is a lifelong undertaking, not a one time thing."

"Udacity is a totally new kind of learning experience. You learn by solving challenging problems and pursuing udacious projects with world-renowned university instructors (not by watching long, boring lectures). At Udacity, we put you, the student at the center of the universe. And if you are udacious enough, imagine yourself a research scientist at home."

“One Iranian student e-mailed to say he found a way to download the class videos and was burning them onto CDs and circulating them,” Ng said last Thursday. “We just broke a million enrollments.”

Passing a Udacity class is as demanding as passing a university-level class but students have a lot of fun along the way. Top-quality learning platforms could enable budget-strained community colleges in America to “flip” their classrooms. That is, download the world’s best lecturers on any subject and let their own professors concentrate on working face-to-face with students.

"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."

At Coursera we envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students. Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.

“It will allow people who lack access to world-class learning — because of financial, geographic or time constraints — to have an opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

Integration with home will reinforce courses through interactive exercises and real-world applications to the exploration, asteroid development, and the settlement of Mars. 

Are you ready for the challenge? Ready to work on Mars?

“We are already moving forward quickly,” said Agarwal. “There’s a lot of 
energy in the air, and the teams at Harvard and MIT can’t wait to collaborate.”