Why should you deep learn?
A lot of people still approach Deep Learning and AI as if these are subjects to be ensconced in the cathedral of Computer Science or Statistics education. We’ve seen this at the IITs and other colleges in India, and at computer science departments in the US. We think this is a bad idea: the ideas and techniques from AI are revolutionizing almost every field of endeavor today.
Physics? Check. Music? Check. Art? check. Mining? Check. Law? Check. Mechanical Engineering? Check. Epidemiology? Check. Students and professionals in any field who are expert at AI can expect to be the most sought after professionals in their fields in the coming years.
We have taught undergraduates and graduates at Harvard and UCLA. Our experience has showed us that firstly, all kinds of students, even those from the humanities, hunger for this learning. Secondly, it is possible for people with all kinds of backgrounds to pick up AI. It is not that complicated.
At some point in ones progression, though, background helps. Students who can code well, can push the limits faster. Thus, one might think that coding is enough. The same students, struggle though, when it comes to apply techniques in a new domain. Here, students with a math-y background have an advantage: they have the confidence to set up the modeling, and the rigor to analyze if their setup was any good.
We think that the key to persistent and “transportable” learning, then, involves putting one’s coding nose first, but also needs combining a lot of coding practice with the kind of math-y rigor you might expect at a top class institution.
Well, this is us. Lots of work. Lots of practice. But just the right amount of rigor to empower you to model on your own, and strike out your own path, either in the AI world, or in your own subject.
In a sense, we’ve created’ an online institution that we hope reproduces the best qualities of our respective Alma maters (Penn, MIT, Harvard, and UCLA), and improves upon them. This democratizes learning for passionate and driven folks everywhere.
What constitutes our learning platform? What is unique in it?
- 5-6 week long, intense courses (we call them modules)
- modules are combined to create programs. For example, our Accelerated Program, which might as well be called our Core Program, consists of the following modules, in order: (1) AI 1: basic ML and AI (2) Data Science 1: analytics (3) Data Science 2: modeling (4) AiI 2: Convolutional and Recurrent Models .
- live teaching, by top professors. Recorded videos for later follow up.
- our basic instructional unit consists of a short lecture segment followed up by a problem solving session. We do several several such units during a lecture. This method of instruction leads to higher engagement in both in-class and online settings, and hence greatly increased learning.
- a lab or two interspersed amongst these units gets you programming hands-on
- an innovative online platform, with the ability to digest our extensive material in different ways, and interesting approaches, such as comic books, summary slides, etc
- homework every week
- a module culminates in a week-long project. You are now ready to take on a larger applied problem.
Learning by doing is the secret of all learning
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is. We wont lie to you about that.
Our students “do” a lot. Starting right from the lectures, there are quizzes built in. Then labs. Then homework. Then project. Every step of the way in our pedagogical technique involves doing.
We recognize that this work can be scary. And lonely. You will struggle at times, and that can be demoralizing.
Thus, our commitment to you is to provide ample and outstanding mentorship at every step.
What does this mean, actually?
- You work in groups, with an expert mentor assigned to each group
- Our labs are done in groups, with each group guided by its mentor
- Your homework is done in groups as well, again guided by a mentor.
- Your project is also done in groups, with extensive mentorship
- Mentor office hours on live video, in addition to the asynchronous guidance provided for homework.
- Extensive discussion forums, with answers and discussions with your peers, mentors, and teachers
Extraordinary and ample mentorship makes the difference between good and exceptional.
We’re big on evaluation, but a large part of our evaluation goal is to ensure participation. We’ve seen that engagement in AI MOOCs falls off pretty fast! In our system, the exercises and quizzes make sure you are paying attention and participating! Research has shown that active participation facilitates recall.
The second reason for a lot of evaluation is for you to know if you are keeping pace with the subject: do you need to slow down? Do you need more mentorship? All of our programs allow for breaks, and rejoining later. We want you to succeed and want to do all that we can do to make it possible.
The third reason is the usual one! Evaluation done right is a signal to employers and teachers about your quality! We break down the components of your evaluation as well: maybe you are better at free form projects than at exercises and labs? Perhaps this points to a strong independent streak that employers and research labs might prefer?
Our ‘Master’ and ‘Advanced’ programs feature capstones - somewhat difficult research or applied problems set in the real world, under our professors or with our industry partner. In a sense, this is the ultimate evaluation: a real world application of everything you have learnt. Students learn to prioritize, problem solve, make trade offs between perfection and effectiveness, weigh time vs delivery considerations - on other words, become professionals.
At the best universities, there are intangibles that add to the richness of student experience. One of these is exposure to ideas the are not part of your curriculum. A mind needs constant stretching by new ideas, different thoughts to be rich and creative. We make sure to feature ample “orthogonal” exposure in our programs with interesting talks by people working on the frontiers of new ideas.
Another intangible element of great institutions is diversity. People from all over the world, teaching, and learning in a community. A heterogenous pool of ideas and cultures that demands a curious and open mind to thrive. As an online institution, you will be exposed to students everywhere from India, and, soon from all over the world. This is in addition to your mentors, who are drawn from everywhere around the world.
We teach for the fun of it, the joy of it (and, well, to earn some money).
You’ll likely start with us, wanting to superhero your career. And you will!
But we secretly hope that you’ll want to do this just for the fun of it, as well :-).
But, getting back to your career for a second, we’ve created an outstanding process to ensure exceptional beginnings to our students careers. We get engaged with you and learn your interests and domain early. Then, our career office works with a multitude of potential employers to match candidates with jobs, and arrange interviews.
We’ve got your back.