Wall Street Journal says we are watching the Ivory Tower topple!


This article just appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

Watching the Ivory Tower Topple

New online courses open to all constitute a thrilling collegiate coup

Some quotes:

"The next big thing, though, is
college-level MOOCs and MOOSes:
Massive Open Online Courses and

"In this new educational model, the
shy and the easily distracted get

"From Mr. Thrun's class (translated
into 44 languages) Udacity chose 15
students based purely on performance
and, a few weeks ago, forwarded their
resumes to companies including Amazon,
Bank of America and BMW."

You can read the full article here.

asked 23 Mar '12, 18:54

Tom%20Vandenbosch's gravatar image

Tom Vandenbosch

accept rate: 106%

edited 26 Mar '12, 16:28


Thanks for another good find! Hey, Tom, could you please go over to aiqus.com and post this, too? I passed on your VOA find there, but don't want to keep stealing your thunder. Oh, and a CS373 post would be great, too.

(23 Mar '12, 20:07)

Jeffrey P. Rice

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Thanks for sharing nice article

(23 Mar '12, 20:18)

David Logsdon

David%20Logsdon's gravatar image

While I really love udacity providing free education for everyone, the "purely on performance" bit is a little scary (and elitist).

(23 Mar '12, 21:31)

Moritz Weglage

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Hey @Hillbilly, feel free to share it wherever you want, I am also not the original writer of the article and I am not really active on aiqus.com and CS373, since I am just a beginner.

(24 Mar '12, 07:48)

Tom Vandenbosch

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OK Tom, I put it up on aiqus, giving you credit for the find. I'll take a look in CS373 later to see if somebody's mentioned it already.

Beginner or not, you're part of the larger community of students involved in these online classes, and I'm sure you're welcome at aiqus (a general site for all the online courses), or CS373. Same goes for anyone taking CS101. We're all in this together.

(24 Mar '12, 15:31)

Jeffrey P. Rice

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@Hillbilly Thanks for the encouragement.

(25 Mar '12, 15:11)

Tom Vandenbosch

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7 Answers:

"In this new educational model, the shy and the easily distracted get advantages."? I was about to take offense, but I see that the meaning in context is "get advantages over their experience in traditional classrooms." I'm OK with that. People able to research the Web also get advantages.

Why am I suddenly thinking of Death of a Salesman? The nerdy neighbor boy Bernard grows up to argue cases before the Supreme Court, while the it's-not-what-you-know-but-who-you-know characters don't fare so well.


answered 23 Mar '12, 20:50

Kenneth%20I.%20Laws-1's gravatar image

Kenneth I. L...

Hmmm interesting. None of the courses have finished and 200 resumes are sent? Or does the article mean the 200 from Sebastian earlier AI class?

For me I don't really care about these resume stuffs, what I really like is to be able to receive a quality university education for free. Even if it's not recognised in any way. This approach of getting the resume of the best students to send to the different companies appears to be a win win solution if it works out. The rest of us get to learn, and they (udacity) get to pick some top candidates to offer to interested companies.


answered 24 Mar '12, 08:23

snowpolar's gravatar image


I don't know where you got the number 200 from, I was reading 15. And yes, they must have been from the AI class.

(24 Mar '12, 08:30)

Tom Vandenbosch

Tom%20Vandenbosch's gravatar image

@Tom Vandenbosch if you click on the article there was a correction.

"Udacity recently forwarded the resumes of 200 students to companies. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said 15 students."

(24 Mar '12, 08:38)


snowpolar's gravatar image

@snowpolar Thanks for that correction.

(24 Mar '12, 10:19)

Tom Vandenbosch

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I believe that 200 is approximately the number of students that got a perfect score in the AI class. This may explain why so many are determined to get a perfect score, and why so many get frustrated when they don't..

(24 Mar '12, 10:41)

Rafael Esper...

Rafael%20Espericueta's gravatar image

@mathprof Oops, and I don't have a perfect score. Oh, and I am not yet frustrated. Anything wrong with me?

(24 Mar '12, 14:13)

Tom Vandenbosch

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I'm here to learn computer science. So far, Udacity has more than lived up to that goal. I love it here! I can't wait for each week's lectures and HW. As for the job stuff, I'm not interested in a job...I'm interested in inventing the future.

(24 Mar '12, 14:42)

Joe Balsamo

Joe%20Balsamo's gravatar image

Watching is an understatement - we are toppling it!


answered 26 Mar '12, 16:32

rakesh%20kumar's gravatar image

rakesh kumar

Awesome. Thanks for posting ^_^!


answered 23 Mar '12, 19:02

Kumakaori's gravatar image


You are most welcome. I am glad to be part of this.

(23 Mar '12, 19:02)

Tom Vandenbosch

Tom%20Vandenbosch's gravatar image

Some of the comments to the WSJ article are giving a wrong perspective, e.g.

The reported high performance of many online students is misleading. Enrollment is free for many of these offerings. For most university-level online courses, problem sets can be submitted repeatedly. A student may register under multiple e-mail addresses, use multiple tries to get the right answers (the tests are typically multiple choice), and then submit only the correct answers under one final identity.

Jonathan Seder


answered 24 Mar '12, 08:38

Tom%20Vandenbosch's gravatar image

Tom Vandenbosch

Actually, if someone would go through that trouble to achieve a perfect score, that'd make them more hireable in my opinion.

Think of how many accounts you'd have to create on day 1 to leave enough of a buffer to get through multiple questions on multiple weeks. Any account with a wrong answer would suddenly be useless. If a question had a dozen or so possible correct choices you'd have to have one account for every possible question, and lose all of the accounts except one... for each question that worked that way!

Udacity is a bit easier to game, since the final exam can be 100% of your grade. Still harder to pull off across multiple classes...

...but we have to come to terms with the potential "crowd education" this has. Being top in class in a class this large is meaningful even though this technology is still in its infancy and not as reputable as "bricks and mortar" education -- in both positive and negative implications

(26 Mar '12, 03:45)

christopher ...

christopher%20bijalba's gravatar image

This bit made me laugh:

For the written assignments and exams, both groups got identical questions—and 210 students got a perfect overall score. They all came from the online group.

They all came from the online group! I wonder why! lol

So if you bluffed ... an essay edited by somebody else, it's time to start breaking a sweat.

Or if someone else answered your on-line quiz questions for you! Oh the irony!


answered 26 Mar '12, 04:01

retep's gravatar image


Some very interesting mixed comments on it too.


answered 26 Mar '12, 08:10

cs101's gravatar image


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Asked: 23 Mar '12, 18:54

Seen: 1,419 times

Last updated: 26 Mar '12, 16:32