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Back in August 2011 Stanford University attempted a bold experiment in on-line education.

Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun decided to put online their "introduction to Artificial Intelligence" course, converting lessons and exercises to a form amenable to being taken online (and - hopefully to be automatically graded… especially considering that before the actual course started in October, more than 130000 persons had signed up).

The course was divided in "basic" and "advanced". The first one was for people too busy (or intimidated?) to take on homework and midterm/exams, and who were content to just follow the lessons and trying their hand to the in-lesson quizzes.

I don't have hard data on this, but I believe that the greatest part of people who enrolled preferred to go the whole nine yards. I was one of them, for sure, and my maths is quite rusty. But just for the heck of it I decided to have a go.

I found the whole experience extremely rewarding. Of course the chances to use any of this in my professional life are nonexistent.

And the whole course was, as it said on the tin "introductory".
There was a suggested book, that I bought but rarely consulted, and there were supporting online lessons through the great Khan Academy

There were forums, and optional programming tasks, and a nice community. Basically, the more you wanted to put in this course, the more you could discover, study, learn.

I didn't have lots of time, and I took all this as an experiment, so I did the basic minimum to just survive it.

Final result: 87.5% - not Earth-shaking, but not too bad either, considering the effort I put into it.
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Still, it was exhilarating to take it and persevere to the end, despite most of it coinciding with a pretty hectic period at work. There were two other courses offered (Introduction to Machine Learning and Introduction to Databases). I am really thinking about trying my hand at another one, now…