As I have mentioned at some point the past, Stanford is offering some online classes. As far as I know, there are three such classes: artificial intelligence, machine learning and databases.

I joined up the AI and the ML one. This is the third week of classes now, so it’s perhaps time to draw up some initial thoughts.

Both classes are challenging, they put out a lot of material to go through and there are weekly assignments. There seems to be a stronger emphasis on work “in class” or more precisely while watching the lecture videos than in regular classroom courses, but this may depend on your experience (I actually took one or two classes with a similar amount of in-class work). The homeworks so far have seemed rather light (meaning short, not necessarily easy or difficult). I’m guessing it will pick up as we move forward.

I think that the machine learning course is much better in terms of logistics. I can check the progress easier, there’s a discussion forum up on the website, I can watch videos at different speeds and the idea of using slides and a tablet for presentation notes seems much better than hand-writing on paper slides. Also the sound quality is better, but this is just being picky about details, the content is very good from both and well presented.

So I’m quite happy with the classes so far, but it’s a very different experience from a real class (as you may expect). The biggest issue I’m finding is with asking questions. One of the things that I thought was really exciting about these classes was that they were trying to design a system for answering questions that was suppose to push up the most voted/popular questions (since they can’t possibly answer questions from all the students enrolled). Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have happened yet and I think that’s a very important thing that needs to be solved.

I’m looking forward to see how this will work out. Fun fun 🙂