Stanford Engineering professors now offer three of the school’s most popular computer science courses for free online this fall, and at the same time launching an experiment that could transform the way online education is delivered.
Of particular relevance to Data Quality Pro members, particularly those entering the profession, will be the Introduction to Databases course course.
Described as a bold experiment in distributed education, "Introduction to Databases" will be offered free and online to students worldwide during the fall of 2011. Students will have access to lecture videos, receive regular feedback on progress, and receive answers to questions.
Successful students of the class will receive a statement of accomplishment. Taught by Professor Jennifer Widom, the curriculum draws from Stanford's popular Introduction to Databases course.
The course covers database design and the use of database management systems for applications. It includes extensive coverage of the relational model, relational algebra, and SQL. It also covers XML data including DTDs and XML Schema for validation, and the query and transformation languages XPath, XQuery, and XSLT. The course includes database design in UML, and relational design principles based on dependencies and normal forms. Many additional key database topics from the design and application-building perspective are also covered: indexes, views, transactions, authorization, integrity constraints, triggers, on-line analytical processing (OLAP), and emerging "NoSQL" systems.
The professors are taking technologies designed to enhance learning for Stanford students and extending them to a broad online audience. They are delivering lectures as short, interactive video clips that allow students to progress at their own pace through course materials. They are offering live quizzes with instant feedback. And they are testing new technologies that allow students to rank questions that should be posed to the instructors.
The professors also hope to extend the benefits of Stanford-style education to those who lack access.
"Both in the United States and elsewhere, many people simply do not have access to a high-quality education. By putting out this initial set of courses, we hope to teach some of the latest computing technologies to anyone who wants to learn it – for free,” said Andrew Ng, an associate professor of computer science who is teaching a new online machine learning course.
The three courses Stanford will provide – Machine Learning, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Introduction to Databases – cover material that forms the basis of some of the most prevalent technologies today, from online shopping to web search and robotics.
"By opening up education, we hope to give more learning, job and advancement opportunities to anyone who wants them,” said Computer Science Department Chair Jennifer Widom, who is teaching the database course.
Demand has been enormous.
Already more than 60,749 people have expressed interest in the database course taught by Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford research professor of computer science and a Google Fellow, and Google Director of Research Peter Norvig.
"The time is right for this – technology has progressed, connectivity has progressed and video has progressed,” Sebastian Thrun said. "It’s thrilling to be able to take Stanford education out into the world to people who can’t afford it or wouldn’t have access.”
Formal registration for the classes is now under way; classes start on Oct. 10 and extend through December.
For more details go to: http://db-class.org/