The World Needs High-Quality AI Education More Than Ever AI developers need high-quality education and training to keep up with changing technology and gain useful skills. At DeepLearning.AI, we put learners first.

Published
Jul 3, 2024
Reading time
3 min read
The World Needs High-Quality AI Education More Than Ever: AI developers need high-quality education and training to keep up with changing technology and gain useful skills. At DeepLearning.AI, we put learners first.

Dear friends,

As we reach the milestone of the 256th issue of The Batch, I’m reflecting on how AI has changed over the years and how society continues to change with it. As AI becomes more widely available, it’s clear that many people — developers and non-developers — will benefit from high-quality training to keep up with the changes and gain useful AI skills. 

In my years of working in education, I’ve felt that the world has enough low-quality courses, newsletters, social media posts, and other forms of content. It’s possible to build a business churning out mediocre content in sufficient volume to attract a meaningful amount of attention, but I have no interest in doing that. 

At DeepLearning.AI, our core philosophy is to put learners first. Our team obsesses about how to create quality training or other programs that benefit people who want to learn about AI. We have intense debates about what tools to teach, which examples to include, even which partners to work with, based on what we think is best for learners.

For example, I recall vividly how, when working on the Machine Learning Specialization, our team spent ages debating whether to use row or column matrices. Both sides showed up with deep analysis of the pros and cons, made Powerpoint presentations to argue their case, and we spent hours debating over what was better for learners in terms of both ease of picking up the concepts as well as subsequently being able to use these skills with third-party machine learning libraries. 

We don’t release a course unless we think it’s a good use of a learner’s time and we’d be proud to recommend it to our own friends and family members. Quality, of course, can mean a lot of things. I expect what we do to be technically accurate, useful, up to date, clear, and time-efficient for learners. And, if possible, fun! 

We don’t always get it right, but we scrutinize learner feedback (one of my most important weekly routines is to study a dashboard that summarizes learner ratings of our courses) and work to make sure our courses serve learners well. And yes, we have a large-language model powered application that reads learner reviews to flag important issues quickly. 

Earlier this year, we realized that some of the paid content we had launched was below our quality standard, and that I wouldn’t in good conscience recommend it to my friends or family members. Despite this content being profitable, we did what we felt was the right thing for learners. So we decided to retire that content and forgo the revenues, but we feel much better now for having done the right thing for learners. 

When we teach courses with partners, we tell them our priorities are “learners first, partners second, ourselves last.” I’m grateful to the many wonderful companies and individuals that work with us to teach cutting-edge techniques, and given an opportunity we try to support our partners’ goals as well. But we never prioritize the interest of our educational partners over that of learners. Fortunately, our partners are onboard with this as well. We have a common goal to serve learners. Without their help, it would be difficult to teach many of the topics we do with high-quality content. 

Quite a few companies have tried to offer to pay us to teach a course with them, but we’ve always said no. We work only with the companies that we think help us serve learners best, and are not interested in being paid to teach lower quality courses.

One reason I obsess about building quality training materials is that I think learning must be a habit. Learning a little every week is important to get through the volume of learning we all need, and additionally to keep up with changing technology. High-quality training that’s also fun supports a healthy learning habit! 

Fun fact: In addition to taking online courses, I also read a lot. Recently I noticed that my digital reading app says I’ve been on a reading streak for 170 weeks. I’ve used the app for many years, but apparently I had broken and restarted my streak 170 weeks ago. What happened then? That was the week that my son was born, Coursera became a public company, and my grandfather died. While my life has had disruptions since then, I was happy to find that it takes a disruption of this magnitude to make me pause my learning habit for a week.

Keep learning!

Andrew 

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