By Michael A. Wilner
When Yaser S. Abu-Mostafa, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the California Institute of Technology, began promoting his online course on machine learning, one person he turned to was Caltech’s dean of admissions. Dr. Abu-Mostafa believed that prospective Caltech students would benefit from learning what it actually takes to be an engineer — something that high schools, on the whole, fail to teach adequately.
National Science Foundation statistics lend credence to his worries: while one in 10 students in the United States enter college with the intention of majoring in engineering, nearly half of those students fail to complete their degree requirements.
Caltech admissions officials agreed wholeheartedly, and promptly sent out an e-mail blast to applicants suggesting Dr. Abu-Mostafa’s course, Learning From Data, on iTunes U.
“University is a mystery to these students, and they really don’t know what they’re getting into a lot of the time,” said Dr. Abu-Mostafa, whose course ultimately attracted 100,000 subscribers. He estimates that one in 10 were in high school, based on the number of e-mails he received from different age groups.
[ Full article available at The New York Times: http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/brown-university-creates-a-mooc-for-high-school-students/ ]