back to article 'I radically update my course module almost every year to keep up with the rate of change'

Natural language processing, or NLP for short, is one of the key research areas of artificial intelligence, and has had a major boost in the last couple of years. After all, the written word is everywhere – be it in the form of scientific texts, news articles, wiki entries, or seemingly simply status updates on the social …

  1. Christoph

    "Facebook. ... take its translation capabilities, for example."

    I'd much rather not. Google's translate gives you a very good idea of the meaning, with occasional weirdness. Facebook's translate gives you a mess of gobbledygook with occasional meaning.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Constant change is here to stay

    > I must radically change my course module at UCL almost every year to keep up with the rate of change

    Which gives the impression that those people who took the course a year or two ago have knowledge that is now obsolete.

    Leaving aside the ethics of charging a student for a course that has such a short shelf-life (possibly shorter than the length of their degree course), isn't it a bit of a waste of time to teach stuff that will be out of date so quickly?

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: Constant change is here to stay

      Good question. Learning about cutting edge stuff comes with obvious shortcomings, for example in NLP:

      * more than ten years ago you would learn about basic RNN

      * five to ten years ago it would be LSTM

      * more recently, Transformer architecture

      However in all of these case there is one constant - you would be reading up the recent research papers and constantly catching up on the development of new models. So perhaps that's where the value of this teaching is - giving the students the tools to understand the current research, as long as they keep following it.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Constant change is here to stay

      "Leaving aside the ethics of charging a student for a course that has such a short shelf-life (possibly shorter than the length of their degree course), isn't it a bit of a waste of time to teach stuff that will be out of date so quickly?"

      One question: how else would you learn this stuff if you aren't taught it? You want everyone working in this industry to be self-taught? Or you want people to do a foundational CS course only, with no modules on modern stuff at all, so they are unemployable when they leave?

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Constant change is here to stay

      "Which gives the impression that those people who took the course a year or two ago have knowledge that is now obsolete."

      Only if your interest is purely in producing products. In terms of actually learning a field, though, there's no such thing as "obsolete". Everything that was taught on this topic years ago is still stuff that you would want to learn and doesn't become a waste of time.

      In a fast changing field, though, you also need to do what everyone in the software industry has always needed to do -- continually update your knowledge and skills. That doesn't mean that what you learn at a university isn't valuable.

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