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On This List, a Pioneer of MOOC’s Beats Bill Gates—but Not for the MOOC’s

Foreign Policy on Monday named its “100 Top Global Thinkers 2012” list, and a face familiar to higher-education leaders sits in the top five. Sebastian Thrun, Udacity’s founder and a pioneer of massive open online courses, beat out Bill Gates and ranked just below Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Many observers have credited Mr. Thrun’s upstart company with spearheading a higher-education revolution, but this honor apparently has nothing to do with MOOC’s.

The magazine’s editors instead heap praise on Mr. Thrun for working toward a different kind of revolution—namely, a driverless-car revolution.

Foreign Policy suggests that Mr. Thrun’s work on the futuristic car might make him “the Henry Ford of a new era.” It makes no mention of Udacity or classes enrolling hundreds of thousands of students. So here’s a bit of unsolicited advice for aspiring MOOC leaders who long to be mentioned in the same breath as the Clintons: Keep your day job, but try building some eye-popping robots, too.

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