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A Machine Learning Course for One Vanderbilt?

Posted by on Friday, July 31, 2015 in News, , .

Last year, as I have done the past few, I used a Stanford online course in Databases as a “multimedia textbook” for my Vanderbilt course in Databases. Students love the online course. I didn’t receive a single complaint about it, but rather glowing remarks, even if some took issue with the way I managed other parts of the course! But on the whole, my ratings were good.

Unlike previous years, however, this past year I invited Vanderbilt staff, alums, and anyone else in Vanderbilt’s extended family (and beyond!) to take the online course alongside Vanderbilt students. The online medium is perfect for bringing together an extended family of any kind, to include an institutional family. I’d hoped that the online course would be the hub of activity for many Vanderbilt learners — that it would be a One-Vanderbilt course in the most literal sense. I created groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ (with 68, 30, and 17 members, respectively) to discuss the online course.

While more than a few alums and a few staff indicated that they were signing up and taking modules of the online course, the level of activity in this One-Vanderbilt course didn’t meet my hopes and expectations. This was a first attempt. Another online course, hosted on the Coursera platform, has emerged, even better suited to the moniker One-Vanderbilt, because this course on MatLab programming was made at Vanderbilt!

In the Engineering School Alum Newsletter, Conduit, of April 8, Dean Philippe Fauchet challenged alums to take the Matlab course:

“I am curious to discover how many alumni could complete the introductory programming course using MATLAB, a version of our CS 103 course. Read about it here. I challenge you to sign up and complete it!”

And indeed, testimonials from alums have come in that they were taking the course, one with his children!!

If and when this online course becomes a “multimedia textbook” for the Vanderbilt on campus version of the same course, then it could explode as the first really successful One-Vanderbilt course.

In the mean time, I will be leading some independent study students through an online course in machine learning this Fall.

As with the database course, students of my campus machine learning course have loved using the online course as a multimedia textbook.

While its not created at Vanderbilt, its a strong course on a timely topic, which I think that many alums, current students, and staff would like to learn, and I hope together. We begin in late August. Drop me a line (douglas.h.fisher@vanderbilt.edu) if you are interested in taking the course with us!

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