Blitzscaling: A Free Stanford Course on Scaling a Startup, Led by LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman

A quick postscript to yesterday's mention of Reid Hoffman's new podcast, Masters of Scale. Many of the concepts discussed in Masters of Scale expand on a 2015 course taught at Stanford by Hoffman and his colleagues-- John Lilly from Greylock Partners, LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue, and author Chris Yeh. The course focuses on Blitzscaling--or what Hoffman described in the Harvard Business Review as "the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale." And to help demystify that process, Hoffman invited guest speakers to class to break things down. Eric Schmidt on Structuring Teams and Scaling GoogleNetflix's Reed Hastings on Building a Streaming EmpireAirbnb's Brian Chesky on Launching Airbnb and the Challenges of Scale--they're among the experts featured in the course.

You can stream the 20 lectures from start to finish above, or find the playlist on Greylock Partner's YouTube channel. You can also find class notes for the course on Medium.

Blitzscaling will be added to our list of Free Online Business Courses, a subset of our collection, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Artificial Intelligence: A Free Online Course from MIT

Today we're adding MIT's course on Artificial Intelligence to our ever-growing collection, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities. That's because, to paraphrase Amazon's Jeff Bezos, artificial intelligence (AI) is "not just in the first inning of a long baseball game, but at the stage where the very first batter comes up." Look around, and you will find AI everywhere--in self driving cars, Siri on your phone, online customer support, movie recommendations on Netflix, fraud detection for your credit cards, etc. To be sure, there's more to come.

Featuring 30 lectures, MIT's course "introduces students to the basic knowledge representation, problem solving, and learning methods of artificial intelligence." It includes interactive demonstrations designed to "help students gain intuition about how artificial intelligence methods work under a variety of circumstances." And, by the end of the course, students should be able "to develop intelligent systems by assembling solutions to concrete computational problems; understand the role of knowledge representation, problem solving, and learning in intelligent-system engineering; and appreciate the role of problem solving, vision, and language in understanding human intelligence from a computational perspective."

Taught by Prof. Patrick Henry Winston, the lectures can all be viewed above. Or watch them on YouTube and iTunes. Related course materials (including a syllabus) can be found on this MIT website. The textbook, available on Amazon, was written by Professor Winston.

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Learn Python with a Free Online Course from MIT

The programming language Python takes its name from Monty Python (true story!), and now courses that teach Python are in very high demand. Last December, we featured a free Python course created by Google. Today, it's a free Python course from MIT.

Designed for students with little or no programming experience, the course "aims to provide students with an understanding of the role computation can play in solving problems. It also aims to help students, regardless of their major, to feel justifiably confident of their ability to write small programs that allow them to accomplish useful goals." Beyond offering a primer on Python, the course offers an introduction to computer science itself.




The 38 lectures above were presented by MIT's John Guttag. On this MIT website, you can find related course materials, including a syllabus and software. And if you're interested in taking this course as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), you can sign up for the version that begins on May 27th over at edx.

The course will be added to our list of Free Computer Science Courses, a subset of our collection, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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“Calling Bullshit”: Watch Lectures for the College Course Designed to Combat the BS in our Information Age

This past January, we highlighted a syllabus for a tentative course called "Calling Bullshit," designed by two professors at the University of Washington, Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West.

The course--also sometimes called "Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data"--ended up being offered this spring. And now you can see how it unfolded in the classroom. The 10 video lectures from the class are available online. Watch them above, or at this YouTube playlist. Also find them housed in our collection, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.




According to The Seattle Times, the course "achieved the academic version of a chart-topping pop single: At the UW [University of Washington], it reached its 160-student capacity shortly after registration opened this spring." And now colleges "in Canada, France, Portugal, England and Australia have contacted the professors about teaching a version of the course this fall."

The course itself was premised on this basic idea: "Bullshit is everywhere, and we've had enough. We want to teach people to detect and defuse bullshit wherever it may arise."

A longer overview of the course appears below. It was cited in our original post. And it's worth highlighting again:

The world is awash in bullshit. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Higher education rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit — and take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with bullshit of the second order. The majority of administrative activity, whether in private business or the public sphere, seems to be little more than a sophisticated exercise in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit.

We’re sick of it. It’s time to do something, and as educators, one constructive thing we know how to do is to teach people. So, the aim of this course is to help students navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combating it with effective analysis and argument.

What do we mean, exactly, by the term bullshit? As a first approximation, bullshit is language, statistical figures, data graphics, and other forms of presentation intended to persuade by impressing and overwhelming a reader or listener, with a blatant disregard for truth and logical coherence.

While bullshit may reach its apogee in the political domain, this is not a course on political bullshit. Instead, we will focus on bullshit that comes clad in the trappings of scholarly discourse. Traditionally, such highbrow nonsense has come couched in big words and fancy rhetoric, but more and more we see it presented instead in the guise of big data and fancy algorithms — and these quantitative, statistical, and computational forms of bullshit are those that we will be addressing in the present course….

Our aim in this course is to teach you how to think critically about the data and models that constitute evidence in the social and natural sciences.

If you're interested in watching the course, get started with Lecture 1: Introduction to Bullshit.

To learn more about the course, please visit this website.

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A Free Course on Machine Learning & Data Science from Caltech

Right now, Machine Learning and Data Science are two hot topics, the subject of many courses being offered at universities today. Above, you can watch a playlist of 18 lectures from a course called Learning From Data: A Machine Learning Course, taught by Caltech's Feynman Prize-winning professor Yaser Abu-Mostafa. The course is summarized as follows:

This is an introductory course in machine learning (ML) that covers the basic theory, algorithms, and applications. ML is a key technology in Big Data, and in many financial, medical, commercial, and scientific applications. It enables computational systems to adaptively improve their performance with experience accumulated from the observed data. ML has become one of the hottest fields of study today, taken up by undergraduate and graduate students from 15 different majors at Caltech. This course balances theory and practice, and covers the mathematical as well as the heuristic aspects. The lectures follow each other in a story-like fashion.

A real Caltech course (it's not watered down at all), the course assumes a familiarity with basic probability, matrices, and calculus.

The lectures can be found on YouTubeiTunes U and this Caltech website, which hosts slides and other course materials. The professor wrote the course textbook, also called Learning from Data.

Learning From Data will be permanently added to our list of Free Online Computer Science Courses, part of our ever-growing collection, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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The Pioneering Physics TV Show, The Mechanical Universe, Is Now on YouTube: 52 Complete Episodes from Caltech

In December, Caltech announced that the critically acclaimed TV series, The Mechanical Universe… And Beyond, has been made available in its entirety on YouTube. Created at Caltech and aired on PBS from 1985-86, the 52-episode series offers an introduction to college-level physics, covering everything from the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus, to quantum theory. A university web page offers more details on the production:

The series was based on the Physics 1a and 1b courses developed by David Goodstein, the Frank J. Gilloon Distinguished Teaching and Service Professor and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Emeritus.

Each episode opens and closes with Goodstein lecturing to his freshman physics class in 201 E. Bridge, providing philosophical, historical, and often humorous insight into the day's topic. The show also contains hundreds of computer animation segments, created by JPL computer graphics engineer James F. Blinn, as the primary tool of instruction. Dynamic location footage and historical re-creations are also used to stress the fact that science is a human endeavor...

Although the series was designed as a college-level course, "thousands of high school teachers across the US came to depend on it for instructional and inspirational use," Goodstein says. "The level of instruction in the US was, and remains, abysmally low, and these 52 programs filled a great void."

You can stream all 52 episodes above. Or find them on Youtube and DailyMotion. They will also be added to our collection of Free Online Physics Courses, a subset of our collection, 1,250 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Visit this Caltech website to get more information on the show.

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700 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Getting Started in May: Enroll Free Today

FYI: This month, 700 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) will be getting underway, giving you the chance to take courses from top flight universities, at no cost. With the help of Class Central, we've pulled together a complete list of May MOOCS. Below, find a few courses that piqued our interest, or rummage through the list and find your own.

Note: The trailer for Introduction to Philosophy is featured above. View the complete list of MOOCS here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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