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Can Free Online Courses Transform the Higher Education Industry?

From Knowledge @ Wharton

When Bilal Shah got his doctorate in computer science from the University of Southern California back in 2010, the job market wasn’t exactly welcoming. “I graduated into the Great Recession. Nothing would test my mettle more,” says Shah.

Around that time, he heard about a free massive online open course (MOOC) on machine learning — a branch of artificial intelligence related to the design of certain computer algorithms — taught by Stanford’s Andrew Ng. Since Shah had plenty of spare time, he gave it a try. Every morning for three months, he sat in Peet’s Coffee & Tea in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, drinking coffee and watching lectures on his laptop. He took pop quizzes, did programming assignments and checked his work on the course’s online discussion board. “It was an easy, convenient way to learn something new,” notes Shah, who is in his early 30s.

Soon after getting certification from the class, he landed a job interview with ID Analytics, the San Diego-based identity fraud and credit risk modeling company. “They prodded my knowledge [of machine learning] and they could tell I knew the material well,” he says. “I got the job. It was a great feeling.”

Visit: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=3028

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