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The End of College Education?

Recently, I wrote about how anyone can use Khan Academy to obtain a top class math education from the basics to advanced calculus. The handwriting is now on the wall for over-priced college education. Just as the Internet has been a great equalizer for independent journalism, it is now poised to do the same for education – even college education. Sebastian Thrun, a prominent Standford professor is aiming to do just that. This Forbes article describes his vision for a college degree available for only $100 that anyone anywhere in the world can obtain.

His education initiative Udacity is now online. You can see the course offerings here. While it doesn’t offer many courses yet, his vision is bold, and he has the credentials to make it happen. While online learning has been with us for awhile, a major stumbling block has been certification. That obstacle will soon be overcome, and Udacity may just pave the way.

The other major innovation by Udacity is integrating the course material into real world problems and their solutions. Instead of long, isolated, boring lectures, you actually work on a project as part of the course, learning what you need to know along … Read the rest

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Tools for Math and Math Education

khan-video

Whether you are a student, have school age children, or have used math at all in your life, you have no doubt struggled at some point with mathematics. Math is one of those things that can be difficult no matter how good you are at it. I know – I am very good in math but I still struggle.

I wanted to share two excellent resources that make that struggle much, much easier. So much easier that, for many of us, math may cease to be a struggle.

Math Software

When it comes to solving and visualizing mathematical problems, good math solving software can make a difficult task significantly easier. Unfortunately, the mainstream offerings such as Maple, Matlab, and Mathematica are way too expensive for casual use. Now there is an alternative called Sage.

Sage is open source, and you can both download it (and run it on just about any OS) or run it from a browser. It has a simple interface, and is fast and powerful. This video gives a history of the project and at about 38:45, you can see a short demo.

With Sage, you don’t have to toil over an algebra or … Read the rest

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