Peter Norvig Shares What He Learned About Teaching to a Global Classroom

In the fall of 2011 Peter Norvig taught a class with Sebastian Thrun on artificial intelligence at Stanford attended by 175 students in situ — and over 100,000 via an interactive webcast. He shares what he learned about teaching to a global classroom.

Norvig and Thrun’s Introduction to AI course from Stanford. This was the first large course launched on the Udacity platform, and with 150,000 students signed up, it was the largest online course at the time.

This course set the trend with Udacity courses, in that it was very heavily math focused, and required more than just listening to pass. As you would expect, Artificial Intelligence is the science of programming a computer to intelligently make decisions based on known data. This involves deep knowledge of Bayes Networks and Markov Decision Chains, and how to enable machines to make the best decisions based on probabilities.

But as difficult as the course was, it was also fun. I felt like I was part of something special, and I think even the professor’s felt (or knew) that the completion of this course would change the way education works. In fact, Thrun left Stanford to take Udacity as a private company and become a startup.

This course is still available online, and if you have any interest in AI and machine learning, I highly recommend this course.–cs271

Peter Norvig is a computer scientist and expert in both artificial intelligence and online search. Currently the Director of Research at Google Inc., Norvig was responsible for maintaining and improving the engine’s core web search algorithms from 2002 to 2005. Prior to his work at Google, Norvig was NASA’s chief computer scientist.

A fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and the author of the book Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, Norvig (along with Sebastian Thrun) taught the Stanford University class “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence,” which was made available to anyone in the world. More than 160,000 students from 209 countries enrolled.

Udacity gives students the opportunity to create hands-on projects that can be put into their portfolios and used to demonstrate their skills to future employers. You’ll have a personal coach who helps provide feedback on your assignments and projects to assist you in reaching your goals and staying on track in your online classes. Throughout your education experience, you’ll be able to track your development, complete in-class projects, have access to interactive exercises and videos and earn a verified certificate at the end of the course as proof of all that you’ve learned. You’ll be learning from knowledgeable professors across various schools and parts of the globe.

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