New Hub for Online Courses

Online courses provided by major universities are nothing new. It’s now ten years since MIT’s Open Courseware allowed students anywhere on earth to virtually sit in on the most prestigious engineering courses imaginable, free. In the process negotiating the copyright and trademark labyrinth that stood in the way of truly free course materials. This in turn has helped to push the movement towards open access research journals, open source course materials, and online collaboration tools for schools and universities.

Since then dozens of colleges, from UC Berkley, Carnegie Mellon to the Open University  have followed, offering some or all of their courses online for free. In 2011, Stanford made the next logical leap, offering online courses that would actually be graded and certified (though not given university credit), all for free and online.

Meanwhile, outsider educationalists like Sal Kahn have leveraged the power of Youtube to deliver whole university curriculums, divided into tiny addictive slices. Computer science has predictably been at the forefront of this online education revolution. With more interactive courses being offered by groups like Code Academy, Code Year, and Udacity. Most recently, Google’s Course Builder initiative has begun releasing all the tools needed to allow anyone with time and tenacity to build interactive courses of their own.

Today I stumbled across a great hub for many of these initiatives. While the multiplicity of free courses is a tremendous boon to educational access, it can seem overwhelming. That’s where Coursera comes in, providing an easy to navigate hub with a single login, where students can sign up to multiple courses offered by diverse institutions.

All these great online resources leave us asking about the place of brick and mortar educational resources, in a post scarcity educational economy. That’s something we’ll get to in future articles.


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