Simply Statistics A statistics blog by Rafa Irizarry, Roger Peng, and Jeff Leek

Simply Statistics interview with Daphne Koller, Co-Founder of Coursera

Jeff and I had an opportunity to sit down with Daphne Koller, Co-Founder of Coursera and Rajeev Motwani Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. Jeff and I both teach massive open online courses using the Coursera platform and it was great to be able to talk with Professor Koller about the changing nature of education today.

Some highlights:

  • [1:35] On the origins of Coursera: “I actually came to that realization when listening to talk about YouTube, and realizing that, why does it make sense for me to come and deliver the same lecture year after year after year where I could package it in much smaller bite size chunks that were much more fun and much more cohesive and then use the class time for engaging with students in more meaningful ways.
  • [7:22] On the role of MOOCs in academia: “Sometimes I have these discussions with some people in academic institutions who say that they feel that by engaging, for example, with MOOCs or blogs or social media they are diverting energy from what is their primary function which is teaching of their registered students…. But I think for most academic institutions, if I had to say what the primary function of an academic institution is, it’s the creation and dissemination of knowledge…. The only way society is going to move forward is if more people are better educated.”
  • [10:15] On teaching: “I think that teaching is a scholarly work as well, a kind of distillation of knowledge that has to occur in order to put together a really great course.”
  • [11:19] On teaching to the world. “Teaching, and quality of teaching, that used to be something that you could hide away from everyone…here, we’re suddenly in a world where teaching is really visible to everyone, and as a consequence, good teaching is going to be visible as a role model.”
  • [13:33] On work/life balance: “It’s been insane. It’s also been somewhat surreal…. Sometimes I look at my life and I’m saying really, I mean, who’s life is this?”