Sebastian Thrun And Gavin Newsom To School Us At Disrupt SF

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Former Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun believes that in 50 years there will only be ten institutions in the world that offer higher education, and that Udacity — a startup that offers STEM-heavy free online courses — will be one of them.

Thrun may be on to something: As the platforms for information distribution broaden due to the Internet, more heavily regulated legacy industries like finance, health and education will inevitably see their outdated structures dissolve and be replaced by something new.

The jury is still out on what exactly that something new is for education, though startups like Udacity, Coursera, Edmodo and Khan Academy are paving the way, from elementary school onwards.

But despite technological advances, many universities are reluctant to give up on their elite status as the keepers of knowledge. And many K-12 schools struggle with paradox of choice when it comes to which startup platforms to experiment with. How do you know what will help students learn and what will eventually be a time suck?

“We might have a system with vastly different tiers, in which some people get the ‘full campus experience’ with nice buildings and live professors while (many) others study as best they can from home with packaged classes and giant peer review forums,” educator Nicholas Jenkins asserts, “But let’s hope we end up somewhere in the middle. Debt is going to be as big a driver of these changes as technology. Or rather, the impacts of debt and technology will converge to drive the transformation.” Jenkins is a Stanford Professor who emailed me earlier today, pitching the Stanford English department’s latest attempt at leveraging technology for learning: Kindred Britain.

Thrun will be joining California Lieutenant Governor and UC Regent Gavin Newsom on stage at Disrupt SF to school us on how the education space will play out over the next two years, two decades and two centuries … Because it will take a long time — and a pile of money — to build the next great educational institution.

Image via Wikipedia


Sebastian Thrun

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 12.55.30 PMSebastian has set his sights on democratizing higher education. Co-founder and CEO of Udacity, Sebastian is also a Research Professor at Stanford University and a Google Fellow, as well as the inventor of the autonomous car and project lead on Google Glass.

Thrun is a former Director of the Stanford AI Lab. He led the development of the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, and which is exhibited in the Smithsonian.

His research focuses on robotics and artificial intelligence.

Gavin Newsom

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 1.08.09 PM

Gavin Newsom, 45, was elected as the 49th Lieutenant Governor of the State of California on November 2, 2010. His top priorities are economic development and job creation, fighting poverty, improving access to higher education, and maintaining California’s environmental leadership. He is the author of “Citizenville: How to Take the Town SquareDigital and Reinvent Government,” which explores the intersection of democracy and technology in this ever-connected world.

Before becoming Lieutenant Governor, Newsom served as Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco. After only 36 days as mayor, Newsom gained worldwide attention when he granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This bold move set the tone for Newsom’s first term. Under his energetic leadership, the economy grew and jobs were created. The City became a center for biotech and clean tech. He initiated a plan to bring universal health care to all of the City’s uninsured residents. And Newsom aggressively pursued local solutions to global climate change.

Newsom is married to Jennifer Siebel Newsom. They have three children: Montana, Hunter and Brooklynn.

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