Instead, the students each got a letter with their grade and class rank, signed by the professors. No Stanford seal, just the professor's name and signature. "It raises the question: Whose certification matters, for what purposes?" Michael Feldstein, a widely read educational technology blogger, told Inside Higher Ed at the time. "If individual professors can begin to certify student competence, [then] that begins to unravel the entire fabric of the institution itself."
But Stavens says informal surveys of the participants in the artificial intelligence pilot give him and his colleagues cause for hope.
"One of the things we asked was, 'Which is more important to you -- the reputation of the instructor, or the reputation of the institution?' " says Stavens.
"They said the instructor is the main thing that's important to them," he says. "That gives us a lot of running room."
Case in point: Know Labs seems to be skimming the cream of its first crop of students in hope of filling vacancies on its own staff. In December, Thrun sent an e-mail to the top performers in the artificial intelligence course, inviting them to apply for openings at Know Labs.
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