Lessons from our online course on generative AI

It's a wrap. Our free online course on generative AI on openHPI with the title ChatGPT: Was bedeutet generative KI für unsere Gesellschaft? has finished. No worries - everything is still accessible free of charge and on-demand in the future! This is why we want to take the opportunity to share some facts and learnings. Let's start with some interesting facts:

ParticipantsPosts in ForumItem VisitsAge Range*
> 20.000> 3.000> 1.4 Million9yo - 86yo

* Age range: those that actively introduced themselves in the forum

Not our first course on AI on openHPI

Our course on generative AI is not in fact our first online course on openHPI. Our first course with >18k participants is a general introduction to AI (no math or programming background necessary). Link: Künstliche Intelligenz und maschinelles Lernen für Einsteiger.

The second course on AI in practice has >9.5k participants. Each week, we took a new dataset and worked on it from A to Z. We offer programming examples to follow along; no coding background needed. Link: Künstliche Intelligenz und Maschinelles Lernen in der Praxis. Both courses are still freely available on openHPI. Feel free to check it out!

Here are some stats including all three courses up until April 2024.

ParticipantsPosts in ForumItem VisitsAge Range*
> 50.000> 6.400> 3 Million9yo - 86yo

* Age range: those that actively introduced themselves in the forum

Let's peek behind the scenes

What goes into the production of an online course? Lets have a quick look (incl. the timeline for the course on generative AI - while for other courses the time horizon is more relaxed).

Johannes and me in the openHPI recording studio in 2021 in Potsdam, Germany.

March/April 2023: Sketching of a rough concept, title and course description. Above that we need to find a suitable slot in the openHPI course calendar. We've done it! The course is live - people can already enrol. But now - the main work begins.

April-May: We have to work out the weeks in detail and plan individual units. Definitely a good deal of background research on our side is necessary. Just for reference: We prepared ~60 individual units for this course. Having a red thread through the weeks is not easy but always a main focus for us.

May & June: Now, the slide content is prepared & we need to head to the openHPI studio. The openHPI studio is a green screen film-studio on the HPI campus in Potsdam. The picture below gives a small peak. In most cases, 3 people are involved. A person leading the recording + a colleague from openHPI for quality control (in adjoining room) and the speaker(s) in the main room. Normally recording sessions are 3h long - which can be really really demanding :)

June & July: We now finished all episodes (some interviews will be filmed later during the course even). We now need to prepare the announcement emails, the self-tests, the homework, the upload of the course pdfs, welcome texts,... And then the course begins!

During the course, we of course engage in the forum and are happy to discuss questions or ideas with participants in the forum. In this course, we had a lot of forum activity - over 3.000 posts!

Our learnings

Seeing the world through the eyes of the audience: While its not always easy - but seeing the content through the eyes of the participants was important from minute one. Noteworthy: the age in this course ranged from 9yo to 86yo. It might not always work out - but overall, we found a good balance to convey a lot of knowledge with a low bar of entry.

Active community is important: Especially with over 3.000 posts in the forum - its important to have an active community that helps answering questions, comes up with new ideas or also shares news. For that we are very grateful and cannot underestimate its importance. Of course, this is not our community only - but also the great community of openHPI in general.


Preparing and conducting the course while managing our normal jobs is quite demanding - but also rewarding. We definitely gained a lot of new perspectives and learned a lot during the preparation! It was really great to interact with so many interesting people in the forum.

Thanks for everyone that went on this learning journey together with us!