Several startups want to bring higher education into the Internet age. First, make courseware for higher education available online. Then, provide the supporting infrastructure that a physical university provides: teachers, peers, evaluation of competency and, finally, accreditation.
Today, we’ve gone from scarcity of knowledge to unimaginable abundance. It’s only natural that these new, rapidly evolving information technologies would convene new communities of scholars, both inside and outside existing institutions. The string-quartet model of education is no longer sustainable. The university of the future can’t be far away.
My first exposure to such efforts was a few years ago when MIT began to make a lot of its educational material online through its OpenCourseWare program. I attempted to take a course or two, but without firm targets, guidance and the pressure of evaluation, it only resulted in a few weeks of desultory study. Clearly, students need something more.
It seems (from the article at least) that each startup seems to favour tackling one particular aspect of this problem – one focuses on aggregating educational content, another on providing “social inrfastructure”, a third on accreditation.