This week marks the beginning of Stanford’s free online course in Statistical Learning taught by Trevor Hastie and Rob Tibshirani. After the first week of classes I have decided that it’s the best thing on the internet.

The idea is similar to Coursera but this is on Stanford’s OpenEdEx platform. MIT has been making course materials publicly available for a few years through their OpenCourseWare, but the last two years have seen a tremendous growth in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s). This is radically changing the nature of education, especially regarding big data / computing. It’s no longer a privilege reserved for a select few. Every person with an internet connection has the ability to enroll in the course and learn from the leaders in the field. The only limiting factors are time and personal motivation.

Check out the code for this plot on Github

So why is it so awesome?

  • The technology has greatly improved. You can see the Professors and slides in high definition.
  • Learn the material from the people who created the field.
  • Everything is free. R, Rstudio, the textbook and the class itself.

At Cisco we’ve started a weekly study group for the duration of the course. People believe that this is the future of business intelligence and data analysis in general, so they want to learn the skills. Hopefully more specialized classes like this will be available in the future.