Online Education: an open-access breakthrough?

Check-out this reference to Stanford’s experiment with 3 engineering/hi-tech classes being offered via YouTube

More than 160,000 initially enrolled; 35k demonstrated their engagement in the class by submitting homework during the first 3 weeks of the class. We need to know more about the demographics of this group and how this current cohort has been been recruited. (So far, we know that most have full-time jobs; <1% are from China, as the government blocks YouTube).

The emergence of high-quality online education presents huge challenges to “the Academy” as developed from ancient Greece. Yes, online education is still emerging from a birth process that was tarnished by all sorts of unscrupulous organizations and offers. However, with Stanford’s forray into this field, as well as MIT’s Open Courseware, it may be time to consider the long-term implications of online learning for the huge range of educational stakeholders: students, faculty, institutions, communities, and of course, the global economy.

What does this mean for college access? Could the enthusiastic response to these classes lead to the vocationalization of higher education? Does online education offer an accessible and affordable portal to income equality that sociologists and educators have been seeking on-campus?  (Here’s a link targeted to prospective online students)

If online education were embraced by those who are customarily shut-out of quality brick and mortor educational environments, tremendous cultural consequences would follow… How would our upwardly mobile dorm and cocktail-party behaviors be transmitted? Who would  bring the beer!

Carry the possibilities further, from a safety and personal security perspective… Given the revelations from Penn State Univeristy this week, perhaps online access would offer  the upwardly mobile and powerless in our society a path toward income equality without becoming subject to the will and neglect of the powerful, who control the Academy …?

IMO, online education is a sleeping sociological giant….