Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Special Blog Assignment

A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind

As USA Today celebrates its 30th anniversary, they interviewed a few of USA's greatest visionaries to talk about the world of tomorrow. In the article, A World Where Grades Will Be Left Behind, Sebastian Thrun is shares his vision for education and how it may look in the next thirty years.

Sebastian Thrun is a Google vice president and Stanford research professor who decided to forgo teaching in a traditional classroom for an experience in education he calls Udacity. What is Udacity, you may ask? Udacity is an education company Thrun founded in January of 2012. Here is the link for the website for those who wish to explore: www.udacity.com. Udacity offers a catalog of free online courses taught by professors from all over the world. After teaching a single course that had over 160,000 students enrolled, Thrun decided that he could not return to teaching in a traditional Stanford classroom. He had seen "Wonderland" and there was no climbing out of the rabbit hole.

Thrun vision for this education company is actually pretty simple. The courses are free but certifications and exams will require a fee. Grades are nonexistent. Thrun believes in allowing students as much time to master a particular skill or concept. As the classes progress, they will offer more challenging exercises and quizzes to help the students with the curriculum. Classes have the potential to hold thousands of students at a time. This ultimately gives more people access to a quality education that they may not be able to afford otherwise.

I find Mr. Thrun's visions to be quite interesting, however, I do have a few reservations. For one, as much as I sometimes complain about grades, I feel like they are important. I like to know how I am progressing throughout the semester in my classes. Another concern I have is whether students will receive a legitimate degree and if so, will jobs view these degrees as they do traditional college degrees? Will they accept them? Aside from these concerns, I rather like Thrun's vision of the future. His company will offer more opportunities to receive an education, with a more flexible schedule. He is helping define education for the future.

Thrun isn't looking to get rid of colleges and universities, he merely has a vision that offers more options for education. His program will not replace traditional schooling, it will offer a different form of education to a larger crowd at low prices. I admire Sebastian Thrun having this vision for a 21st century education, and for seeing that his vision became a reality.

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