Stanford Engineering Everywhere

By | 8:18 AM 1 comment
Stanford started this initiative of sharing its engineering material with everyone free of charge. So you can download the entire course material, videos, assignments, etc that Stanford students use - free of charge. Hey, didn't MIT do the same thing (Open Course Ware - a few years ago. So whats so new about Stanford. I think its a me too on MIT. But this does herald a big shift in the way the world will see education.

Maybe the name of the college will not matter so much anymore, because earlier you only had access to the best material in the best colleges. Now anyone can access at least the written stuff from anywhere (you can download recorded lectures as well sometimes). What then is the real value of going to an ivy league college - Well, the professors. It will not be about just the degree and where you got it from. The world will start to value the professors who taught you and what they have to say about you. Would that make it a fair play in this overcrowded job market? We'll have to wait and see. For now, the information silo barrier that separated the haves and the have-nots has been accepted as a thing of the past.

Another way to look at this is that material will become so widely available that students will go to colleges to learn how to think and process this information. Not to actually "get" the knowledge but how to "use" the knowledge. I remember at L we used to talk about how the world has moved from a Knowledge economy to an Idea economy. That too has its merits. At the end of the day, unless you learn how to use knowledge, it will not help.

I cant help but wonder that in the middle of all this there is a very big skill that is so vital to everyone but not stressed at all. How do you manage so much of information in so little time? Is it time management, knowledge management - call it what you will, but there needs to be a much better way to use this. MIT release OCW a few years back and hoped it would change the world. But how can you changed the world when the world doesn't know how you make use of what you've given them. I think the world needs to accept and evolve a way of using this knowledge.

If you look at Google, they talk about organizing the world's information. But they're just bringing it to you in a primitive format. Its still not usable. Compare this to being able to read every text book that mentioned "information retrieval". Is it really useful? We need a radical shift in the way we use information - not just search through it and find results. With all this talk of semantics, we're still talking about how to find the "right" piece of information. Is that the next big thing? Or is it in something that helps us "use" the information that we need.



Kartik said...

Ideas supersede everything! It's okay to have access to loads of information, but unless you are in place that fosters ideas without restrictions, it's all in vain