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Bill Gates on taking online classesNo, Gates isn't working on his bachelor's degree, but, he tells CNET's Ina Fried, he is an avid viewer of online classes from MIT and elsewhere. Such classes have the potential to transform higher education, he says.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:05 >> Ina Fried: When people think of the foundation work, they tend to think of the development in health work overseas. But another big focus, as you mentioned, is education here in the US. We've talked in the past about some of the possibilities that are out there in terms of recording some of the great lectures that are taking place and making them available online to students everywhere. I understand you've been doing a lot of beta testing of some of these online classes, taking classes from MIT and elsewhere. What are some of the things that you've seen as you've taken some of these classes? >> Bill Gates: Well, a great lecturer is a phenomenal thing. And no university has all the great lecturers. Once you identify who's good, then you can help them record it in a high-quality way, you can let them -- give them resources to do the experiments and demonstrations even better and get something that's quite phenomenal. Online for mathematics or physics, there should be just phenomenal lectures. And that really is happening. I mention academicearth.org in the letter as a place where they're collecting and letting you connect out to a lot of different courses. And as that gets broader, as it reaches down into high schools, across a broader range of subjects, and also includes interactive testing to see if your knowledge is right, I think, can be a great tool. I love the Walter Lewin [phonetic] physics courses. I love the Don Sataway [phonetic] materials science course. I need to learn a lot about these sciences so that the health and agricultural work of the foundation, I'll have smart about those things, and I love watching them. So it's kind of there as a compliment to the for-profit stopature [phonetic] organizations like Teach 12. >> Ina Fried: Beyond letting you make up some of the college work that you might have missed, you talked about this as a foundation for improving a higher education system. I think there's some research from Carnegie Mellon that actually shows that by mixing live discussion with online lectures, students actually retain more than if they were sitting in the actual lecture all the time. Is that some of what your guys are seeing? >> Bill Gates: Yeah, well, online is pretty special for two reasons. One is that you can get the very best lecture in the world and wherever you are, whenever you want, you can connect to that lecture. That's video on the web and was impossible even five years ago. The other is this interactivity where if you know a topic, you can kind of skip over it, or if you're confused about it, where you're confused can be analyzed by software. And so that kind of personalized, learn-at-your-own-pace type approach, which is pretty phenomenal -- you know, the example of a kid whose math score's not good enough, and he's stuck in remedial math, it's kind of awful because he's not sure what he got right and what he got wrong. And he's been given this negative feeling of, "Okay, you're not good at this," but as he's sitting through lectures, a lot of it's stuff that he already gets, and some of it needs more depth, which is maybe fractions or scientific notation just weren't explained well. They weren't the right examples. And this mix of showing you visually, showing in different ways can help you learn something. For me, certain complex concepts, I actually watch multiple of the physics courses, just so I say, "Do I understand this, say, cardinal limit?" Or the physics of photolvitake [phonetic] receivers. If I see it from multiple, it strengthens my understanding. ^M00:03:46 [ Music ]