Date Posted: June 3rd 2021
Lifelong Online Learning
By Alex Mokin
A bit of introduction
Frankly, we live in wonderful times. The Internet, smartphones, smart cities, self-driving cars, dancing robots, etc. – I am sure that each of you will be able to significantly expand this list just by looking around your home or office. After all, many things that are already familiar to us are true technological masterpieces. However, now I am not going to talk about the Internet of Things, smart assistants, mixed reality, or even brain-machine interfaces.
A bit of history
As I wrote in one of my previous posts, 2012 was a turning point for deep learning and the whole field of artificial intelligence. Nevertheless, another not less important event took place that very year. Two Stanford University professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller founded Coursera, a web platform for so-called massive open online courses (MOOCs). As I remember, it was not the focus of the world's attention, and some of my colleagues were very sceptical about the idea of the education’s quality outside universities. However, in 2012, everyone in the world who had the access to the Internet got the ability to learn for free from the world's best professors.
In fairness, Coursera was not the only platform of this kind at the time. The edX, created by Harvard University and MIT, had an equally powerful start. However, to my mind, it was specifically Coursera which became the flagship of a new educational world. I would also like to mention the huge contribution to the online education made by Sal Khan and his Khan Academy, which he founded in 2006. This remarkable project has a special place in my heart. But today I want to talk about the higher-education-oriented online platform thanks to which I decided to focus on such an exciting area as artificial intelligence.
A bit of personal experience
For me, 2012 was also a special year. I defended my second doctoral thesis and started looking for a new research direction. And at this point I came across a wonderful Coursera course Machine Learning by Andrew Ng. By the way, this course remains one of the best and most popular courses on Coursera. Learning from the co-founder of Coursera and Google Brain and one of the best machine learning specialists, while being in another part of the world, was a strange and exciting feeling.
I would also like to pay tribute to edX co-founder Professor Agarwal, whose Circuits and Electronics course, which I also took at the time on edX, was incredible as well.
Since then, online education has become a part of my life.
A bit about the iceberg
More recently, knowledge has been rigidly isolated in certain educational and research institutions, showing only a pretty small part in the form of textbooks and articles. Of course, universities and colleges are in no hurry to reveal all the secrets of their syllabuses. However, the educational iceberg is gradually emerging. Competing for the minds and hearts of online learners, colleges and universities are revealing more and more secrets.
No country for old excuses
It used to be much easier to find reasons not to learn further. Harvard and Stanford were some faraway magic places for most people. However, now you can freely enrol on Harvard CS50 course by Professor Malan or superb Deep Learning specialization created by Andrew Ng and his DeepLearning.AI team.
To the point, I would like to recommend the Coursera courses by the DeepLearning.AI team. Over the years, they have developed a great set of specializations: from the basics of deep learning (Deep Learning) to specific state-of-the-art AI models in medicine (AI For Medicine) and generative deep learning (Generative Adversarial Networks).
Not a panacea
Of course, online learning is not a complete replacement for full-time learning. Many professions require practical skills that are not yet possible to learn online. For example, this applies to medical education. But even in terms of such programs, online education is becoming an increasingly powerful assistant. A good example is the excellent Coursera course Introductory Human Physiology from Duke University.
A bit about addiction
I also feel it is my responsibility to warn about a dangerous addiction to online education. Having completed more than 50 online courses, I can't stop. In April and May, I finished two courses on Reinforcement Learning and two courses of TensorFlow Advanced Techniques specialization. Besides, my curriculum for the next six months already includes about ten other courses in artificial intelligence and medicine. So be careful, it's addictive.
And quite a bit about AIBODY
As you see, I am a long-standing and consistent supporter of online learning. And joining the AIBODY team was a real gift of fate for me, as our unique digital human organism will soon drastically change medical education. Stay tuned and keep learning.