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Stanford professor gives up tenure to start Udacity free online university

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Professor Sebastian Thrun, who taught Stanford's open-enrollment online course on artificial intelligence last year has given up tenure to start an online university called Udacity. Classes begin February 20th.

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Sebastian Thrun
Sebastian Thrun

Inspired by the number of people that the Khan Academy's free video lectures reached, Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun put his own artificial intelligence class online and enrolled 160,000 students. After scrambling to accommodate so many pupils, he came away from the experience with a new vision of education so different that he says he "can't teach at Stanford again." Instead, he's starting an online university called Udacity. Thrun hopes to teach about 200,000 students per class — including grading exams and quizzes — in contrast to the mere hundreds taught at a brick-and-mortar university. The first two classes, starting February 20th, will teach students around the world to build a search engine or program a robotic car, and enrollment is free. You can catch a glimpse of what inspired Sebastian Thrun's career change in his presentation at DLD today.