Thursday, March 01, 2012

How would you like to go to MIT – for free?

Well - you will be able to later this year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will be offering free on-line courses to anyone, anywhere in the world, through its new digital arm, MITx. Margaret Wente writes in Canada's Globe and Mail - We’re ripe for a great disruption in higher educationMIT expects that MITx will eventually host a virtual community of millions of learners around the world (see press release from MIT about this here). MIT leading the way again!

Image link to Wikipedia.
Wente writes about the "disruption" that what MITx is doing will cause in a time of reduced resources at higher levels of education. She asks: 

" we really need 10,000 professors in 10,000 classrooms lecturing on the same subject? Why not let students watch the best explainer in the world explain calculus or physics – online, on their own time – and use local professors to work in smaller groups with students?".

In other words, choose your courses from different locations in your own time, and get the best learning experience possible. I'd certainly be all for this as a student, but perhaps not as an educator - mostly because it could cost me my job. However, Wente proposes that we have reached the "end of the line" with the old model of third-level education as funding cuts everywhere bite harder. She finishes her article by stating that Colleges "need to disrupt themselves, or be disrupted, to survive". I couldn't agree more - I do believe that there will soon be a class of qualification that is separate from our regular degrees, perhaps an "International Degree" that might ultimately be more useful to employers than a locally sourced full-time degree.

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