There are thousands of universities and colleges in the United States. However, only a few of these are considered elite or top ranking. These universities are responsible for majority of research in science, technology and liberal arts. They are also home to some of the most qualified and best faculty members in the world, who are often considered as experts and policymakers in the field. However, these universities have strict and complicated enrollment criteria, and restrict admission to only a few hundred students per year. Andrew Ng wanted everyone to have access to high quality education. He felt that millions of students and professionals, who could not go to top ranking or Ivy League College, would benefit from an online platform where the lectures were available for free.
Ng is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Sciences at Stanford University. He is also the Director of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. He is believed to be an expert in robotics and artificial intelligence. He has also published more than 100 research papers and articles in various scientific journals and publications. He received the Sloan Fellowship in 2007. He was also named as one of the “Top 35 Innovators Under the Age of 35” by MIT Technology Review.
Ng’s biggest contribution to the world of education and learning is perhaps Coursera, an online portal of free learning that he created along with his Stanford colleague Daphne Koller. The website offers several courses in a wide variety of fields. Most courses are taught by top professors and experts from Princeton University; Stanford University; University of California, Berkley; Penn State; and University of Michigan, Ann-Arbor.
Before creating Coursera, Ng created Sanford Engineering Everywhere, or SEE, the University’s first major attempt to distribute free, online education. Over a dozen of Stanford’s engineering classes were made available online during this period. Over a million people viewed these videos. Ng also helped develop Stanford’s Open Classroom. More than one million students across the globe enrolled into his first online Machine Learning class in October 2011.
Since then, Ng has worked relentlessly to make top-notch education more accessible to everyone. Most programs at Coursera last for 4 to 12 weeks. Each class consists of 10 to 15 minute lecture video followed by a video question session. The website’s auto-grading software provides instant feedback to the students, while the Question and Answer Community helps them interact with their peers. Coursera has been acknowledged by top national and international media outlets for its contribution to education. It has also received a 16 million dollar funding from investors for future programs.
Ng has big plans for the website. He wants more courses and other top faculty members to teach on it. All the courses offered on the website are free with the belief that knowledge should be available to everyone. It is also a great opportunity for faculty members to share their knowledge with millions of people around the world, without worrying about the revenue.
- Coursera – https://www.coursera.org/about/founders
- Stanford University – http://ai.stanford.edu/~ang/index.html
- USA Today – http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-05-15/online-classes-college-education-tuition/54979794/1