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The Global One-World Classroom

Wired Magazine profiles an initiative by a couple of Stanford professors to open some of their classes to "anyone with an internet connection." A recent class attracted 160,000 students in 190 countries. They are supremely optimistic, auguring that "there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education" in 50 years. All of which, naturally, will be internet-based and have a global reach.

I have my doubts. On-line schools will definitely rise in the years to come, particularly if prohibitively-expensive college tuition continues to rise. But it will be very difficult to replicate the small classroom experience and employers will have to accept their legitimacy. Presently, the only significant difference between the Stanford experiment and other on-line colleges is prestige (and cost - the former is still free).

A shift toward on-line schooling will likely be gradual - but if it is to be successful, it will result from initiative and experimentation on the part of on-line schools, as well as the stubborn refusal of traditional colleges to reduce costs and adapt.
Categories > Education

Discussions - 2 Comments

I tend to disagree... The Kahn Academy is massively successfull. Companies are now looking at certifications from Kahn Acedemy to be on a the same playing field as certifications from other public and private institutions.

Most everything else in our economy has benefited from industrial technology, but not teaching. We are still doing it the same way our ancestors did. Maybe it's time that changed.

The real challenge may not be how to digitalize learning, but how to get the students to sit still long enough to learn. My perception is that attention spans have dwindled to almost nothing in the last 20 years.

And besides, when I look back on my own education, I think about 50% of my teachers might have been better employed in other professions. They certainly weren't optimal teachers.

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