Teaching Gerontology and Aging Studies to 163,000

I recently watched this video of Dr. Sebastian Thrun who gave the keynote speech (http://events.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/82b693c44d94441ba4b9c08c75df31351d) at the Sloan Consortium annual meeting. Dr. Thrun is an Artificial Intelligence researcher and educator at Stanford University. He describes his experiences changing an academic course in Artificial Intelligence from a classroom experience for 200 students to an online course. More than 163,000 people took the course. From this experience he went on to help found Udacity (http://www.udacity.com/). Udacity is an educational organization with the goal of bringing knowledge to more and more people.

So now I’m wondering how I can do the same for Gerontology and Aging Studies. There is such a dearth of knowledge about how best to integrate growing numbers of older people into the society, how to support people in 20-30 years of retirement, and, perhaps most importantly, how to care for those among them who need care. Most of us have had little training in caregiving. Even most health care providers know little about how aging interacts with  disease let alone how best to work with elders to keep them healthy, wealthy, and to tap their wisdom. Lots of work to do, and if anyone has ideas on how we can reach out to 160,000 in one course, please let me know.