Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Away Higher Education?

Is a revolution in higher education underway? Will the higher education formerly available only to selected and small groups of people become available to all takers? There are some early signs that the answer may be -- to a substantial extent - "yes." See, for example:
Tamar Lewin,  College of Future Could Be Come One, Come All  (Nov. 19, 2012):

"Teaching Introduction to Sociology is almost second nature to Mitchell Duneier, a professor at Princeton: he has taught it 30 times, and a textbook he co-wrote is in its eighth edition. But last summer, as he transformed the class into a free online course, he had to grapple with some brand-new questions: Where should he focus his gaze while a camera recorded the lectures? How could the 40,000 students who enrolled online share their ideas? And how would he know what they were learning?
"In many ways, the arc of Professor Duneier’s evolution, from professor in a lecture hall to online instructor of tens of thousands, reflects a larger movement, one with the potential to transform higher education. Already, a handful of companies are offering elite college-level instruction — once available to only a select few, on campus, at great cost — free, to anyone with an Internet connection.
Moreover, these massive open online courses, or MOOCs, harness the power of their huge enrollments to teach in new ways, applying crowd-sourcing technology to discussion forums and grading and enabling professors to use online lectures and reserve on-campus class time for interaction with students"

A blurb by the NYTimes -- the blurb is called "Virtual U" -- announces, "This is the first article in a series that will examine free online college-level classes and how they are transforming higher education."

This is the kind of reportage that compels one to say that whatever reservations one may have about the New York Times, the newspaper (a/k/a media entity) is surely one of the best in the world.

MOOCs have an affinity with Google's ambition to make large chunks of massive libraries (e.g., university libraries) available - free - to the world. 
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