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The $100 Masters Degree From Udacity 191

Posted by timothy
from the hope-of-udacity dept.
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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The $100 Masters Degree From Udacity

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  • by mfh (56) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @09:37AM (#40343829) Journal

    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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Auroch (1403671)

      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 w

      • by Cryacin (657549) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @09:59AM (#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.

        • by Auroch (1403671) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @10:17AM (#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.

        • by echucker (570962)
          Teach a man to fish, and he'll forget about eating.
        • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @01:27PM (#40345255)

          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.

          Actually, what the proponent of this adage really meant was "teach a man to fish, then for the rest of his life he'll have to pay through the nose to rent tackle, boat and launch privileges from you because you own the only bait shop and dock because the only body of water around is your private lake, you bastard!

      • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @10:42AM (#40344167) Journal

        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.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @12:22PM (#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.

        • by feranick (858651)
          I completely agree with you. Education is not just taking classes (online or not). It's about interacting with peers, it's about discussion, it's about interaction and inquiry. It's about giving the student the ability and possibility to learn in a real research environment, to face criticism to your idea or project (rather than for what you should know about your coursework). In other words, it gives you the ability to actively grow rather than absorbing possibilities. And let's not forget the networking t
          • by tzanger (1575)

            I think that your networking requirement is correct, but you don't get much out of networking in university or college. You get your jobs from networking with employers or those who can employ you much less than your peers who are already employed, and you gain access to that through many avenues in addition to the job fairs and co-op opportunities at school.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      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

      • Pretty much so. All of my physical chemistry tests were open book. Having the facts at hand didn't save half of the course from failing badly. (Including me in Quantum Physics II).
    • 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) appren

      • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @10:17AM (#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.

      • by morcego (260031)

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

        No. Education needs to no longer be treated like a single thing. Each topic is different, and should be treated so.

        The way to teach/learn CS, for example, is (or should be) different than law, or physics.

        One of the problems with education right now (among many others) is the search for "on size fits all" solutions.

    • by hey! (33014) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @11:40AM (#40344539) Homepage Journal

      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.

      • by toadlife (301863)

        I would bet that computers and the internet are more related to the decrease in study time than any "lack of rigor". The ability to find and organize information that computers give you bring massive efficiency gains. Going through the K-12 system (I never went to college) without the benefit of the internet, I can easily see the time it took me to write those little 15-20 page papers in high school being cut in half with today's technology at my disposal.
        Continuing on the topic of "rigor"; my mother has a

      • by l00sr (266426)

        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

        This is incorrect. A master's degree will, at best, qualify you to lecture basic classes at your local community college. Teaching at a university requires a PhD, almost without exception.

    • 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 think Facts will be downloadable in the future... I am not so sure about the rest of that though.

      I think that certain "habits" that engender discipline might be downloadable but you are talking about modifying "free will" here.

      I am unsure about critical thinking. Again, you could teach "habits" that generally lead to critical thinking, but there is a problem with that which I will point out in a moment.

      Analysis... implies understanding, which requires imagination... which is also required for critical th

  • 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)

    • 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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by contrapunctus (907549) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @09:53AM (#40343909)

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

      • For one of my graduate degrees, about half of the classes were on-line (public health, and the on-line classes were largely because all of us were scattered throughout the world working in various relevant capacities). The other half were more or less seminar style classes focusing on discussion of various topics relating to our more narrow focus within public health.

        The on-line classes were not bad, and were certainly challenging, especially when we had to collaborate in teams, but there was an interperson

    • well most work is group based and open book.

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

      • by Nursie (632944)

        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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @10:37AM (#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 (Score:4, Informative)

        by Nursie (632944) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @10:53AM (#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.

        • by Nursie (632944)

          stupid fingers.... CS degree.

        • 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 univer

    • by tmosley (996283)
      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.
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @09:46AM (#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.

    • by Dr Fro (169927)

      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.

    • by kenh (9056) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @10:08AM (#40343985) Homepage Journal

      "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.

      • by Nursie (632944) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @11:07AM (#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.

        • by mdf356 (774923)

          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 sch

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2012 @01:09PM (#40345133)

            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.

            I work for an engineering firm. We don't hire writers to write our reports. The engineers and scientists are expected to know how to do that in addition to their primary focus of study. It would be wonderful if clients would accept our projects with no report, but for some crazy reason they like documentation.

            Literature and grammar classes are useful in the STEM fields. Peers and clients both expect well-written reports/papers, and they can tell when someone didn't pay attention to those classes in school.

            Oh, and for history classes not being useful, you'd get laughed at for not knowing of major historical facts in mainstream society if conversing to someone with a bit of intellect.

            Philosophy teaches you how to think logically using words. Life isn't all logic gates and mathematical proofs.

            Sociology provides insights into how the group or herd thinks. There can be a huge mutual benefit from knowing that as it can help you convey your thoughts and knowledge more effectively.

            I am a scientist who graduated from a liberal arts curriculum, and I'm very glad to have the additional basic courses in non-math/science fields to help me better converse with all people in my society as it opens doors that otherwise would be unavailable to me. There's tremendous value in it, and I've seen it benefit my fellow alumni as well.

      • A college degree should show those things, but in reality, at least in the US these days, it seems more and more it's just a vocational certificate.

        I work as a researcher at a university and recently was auditing several courses I was interested in outside of my discipline, and I ran into so many students (both grad and undergrad) who were incredibly limited in their knowledge of anything outside of their major or graduate concentration or even, in many cases, inside their major/concentration that wasn't ve

        • Even worse, many of the students I encountered we're absolutely horrible writers and very, very poor readers as well, unable to do more than barely functional writing and often unable to appreciate nuance in a text, preferring instead to be hit over the head with bald statements.

          Oh, the irony...

          Sorry, but apostrophe abuse is a pet peeve of mine.

      • 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.

        However, none of that well-roundedness actually implies that they can THINK. Being a walking encyclopedia is useless even if it covers a wide variety of subjects. Personally, I think this misconception of "was exposed to a wide variety of stimuli" is equivalent to "this person can think and solve problems"... and the reverse, "this person was not formally introduced to a wide variety of topics" is equivalent to "this person could not possibly be able to actually think in useful ways".

        Ah well, the primitive

    • From TFA (p.2) [i-programmer.info]:

      All Udacity courses are free and will remain free, it is the certification, or level of certification which will eventually cost money.

      (this excerpt was from 2nd page, about half way down in the question: The recent Forbes Magazine’s article title on Udacity read “$100 for a masters degree” is that a reasonable estimate ? )

      This is cool because the material will be available even to very cash poor people, and I will likely look into classes here I'd never think about paying for at a conventional school.

      jellomizer wrote:

      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...

      btw, JM: I agree with your points about delivery & cost cutting. When the Khan Aca [khanacademy.org]

  • 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.
    • 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

  • Key Word "Hope" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kenh (9056) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @09:55AM (#40343915) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • by mattr (78516)

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

    • Re:Key Word "Hope" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mdf356 (774923) <mdf356.gmail@com> on Saturday June 16, 2012 @11:47AM (#40344577) Homepage

      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.

  • by Kijori (897770) <ward.jake@NosPam.gmail.com> on Saturday June 16, 2012 @10:04AM (#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?

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      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.

    • by game kid (805301)

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

  • 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

    • 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.

      • by Nursie (632944)

        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.

        • by russotto (537200)

          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.

      • by mdf356 (774923)

        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.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @10:40AM (#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.

    • by codepunk (167897)

      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.

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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,

    • 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 mor

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • by green1 (322787)

      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 anothe

    • by mdf356 (774923)

      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.

  • 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... (Score:4, Funny)

    by fysdt (1597143) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @11:31AM (#40344481) Homepage
    One does not simply get a Master's degree for $100.
    • Make the text books free and that would help everybody. Most topics stay the same with only slight changes over time; especially the lower level courses.

      • by kenh (9056)

        Do you know how silly that sounds?

        Students pay $500-2,000 credit hour (or more) for Graduate School, and spend less than $1,000/semester on books.

        The issue isn't the cost of the textbooks - it's the cost of the teacher in front of the classroom, the brand-new dorms & athletic facilities, etc.

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

  • Snore (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sperbels (1008585) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @11:38AM (#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.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @12:40PM (#40344925) Homepage

    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.

    • by kat_skan (5219)

      Well that largely depends on how good the classes are and why you want the degree, doesn't it? If you finish the degree and know the subject material as well as someone who spent thousands on theirs, is that enough value for your $100?

      • I'm thinking this logic works pretty fair, in India.

        But long term success requires more than an absoute minimum. Short term success cannot handle the unexpected. For example, I use to think that Yale produced quality graduates; I'm now seeing that Harvard is producing successful graduates, and that is quality I prefer to learn from.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        If you want an advanced education there is plenty of free resources on the internet and in libraries to get a PHD level of education. People want a "degree" to wave it around. If you are interested in education, a degree is not important to you, You will seek out the education and consume it without the sillyness of a piece of paper.

  • Reminds me of an old advertising slogan...."I'll make anyone a master of science for just $99.95."
  • Diploma Mills are way more expensive. I hope an acceptable accreditation,(like I won't get laughed at to loudly when I put it on my job application), will come with the $100 and completing the curriculum.

    Statistics is my personal Achilles Heal. The Stat class(s) should cover the stats required for the A.I. classes. The ability to drill down an avenue of questions would be a god send. With 160K+ students, there's no way a professor can answer all those questions. But if one could drill down to a sub lectur
  • You silly Americans and your "we have to pay for university education".

    Then again I guess that free education is socialist and since we all know that socialism is the terrible evil I guess you'll just have to pay.

    • by kenh (9056)

      Not sure where you live, but you pay for your university education as well - only instead of only the people that attend university getting the bill, you assess everyone for the tuition.

      Or do your university staff work for free, the buildings never need repairs, and the students all feed and house themselves?

  • Where does one go to study Java online with feedback from an instructor.

    One course I have found so far is the following:

    http://www.oreillyschool.com/certificates/java-programming.php

    Any others ?
  • June 7 http://news.slashdot.org/story/12/06/07/0118228/online-courses-and-the-100-graduate-degree [slashdot.org]
    It's an impractical now as it was 9 days. Stellar editing timothy.

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