Yesterday, in From Silicon Valley, A New Approach To Education, NPR highlighted the free-online class offerings ofÂ Coursera. If the purpose of Coursera was solely “to bring more classes from elite universities to students around the world for free online,” then an ESN Facebook wall recommendation to check-out Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World (and other offerings) would have been plenty. Why? In an idealistic way I agree with Daphne Koller (Stanford), “By providing what is a truly high-quality educational experience to so many students for free, I think we can really change many, many people’s lives.” . . . Question: Do you agree?
But I was taken aback by the assertion, that “online classes could bring university classes to millions of people who are now effectively cut off.” Why?
- On-line education demands the resources necessary to access it.
- The question of the “value” of free on-line classes to those “effectively cut off” when no credit is offered.
- Free online classes and the questions they raise are not as new as one might think. A friend of ESN working in The UofC law library shared with me
- “Ever since I came across Yale’s online courses about 2 years ago, I have wondered when this idea was going to catch on. Yale has quite an array of courses online, though they are not set up for human interaction or for grading. Why do this?? . . . Colleges and universities can extend their influence quickly and extensively with such courses. People from anywhere in the world would be able to take courses they would never otherwise engage. Major challenge – how many free courses? How much to pay for the rest, so that they can count for a degree (bold added by author of this post).”