Sebastian Thrun: "Grave times require radical thinkers"

By Sarah Lacy , written on April 30, 2013

From The News Desk

If you are a traditional educator, this video will likely infuriate you. In it, Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun and I talk about what is working with online education and what isn't. He's plenty critical of the movement he's part of -- citing the 90% drop out rates of a lot of massive online courses.

"I'm the first one to admit there's an enormous amount of hype and that hype to me is actually dangerous because we fall into this believe we have solutions when we don't," he says. "You can't tell me you've solved education if we leave 90% of the willing students behind."

That said, he has even harsher words for the way traditional online education has been conducted, calling out staples like the 15-week course and lectures as relics of a bygone age. Learning, he says, needs to adapt to the video game and Twitter era. Yep, Twitter. The very thing that many teachers say is eroding the English language.

Thrun accepts he's a radical. But this is -- after all -- the guy who helped invent wearable computing and the self driving car. "I'm willing to be radical because grave times require radical thinkers," he says.

Before you dismiss his views, hear him out in the video above. And for part one of our interview with Thrun about how he plans to fix computer science and Udacity's business model, go here.