Open Education - Free, Online, College Classes

Last week my mother called me.  She didn't have a current email address for someone, and hoped she could get it from me.  I said, "I don't know, just send him a message on Facebook.  He's one of your friends, isn't he?"  It hadn't even crossed her mind that Facebook is a way to contact people. 

Technology is changing the world so fast.  Those of us in middle age and older don't know half of what is possible with technology today, let alone what may be possible just five years down the road.  That goes for the education field as well.  I heard a lot of talk in legislative hearings this year.....
about virtual learning and distance delivery.  But nothing was said about the possibility of going beyond traditional education institutions.  This is what I found so mind-bending about the NY Times Article "An Open Mind."

Many colleges and universities are posting complete courses online, including videos of lectures, multimedia material, syllabi, class notes, reading lists, problem sets, and homework assignments.  Yale has spent $30,000 to $40,000 for each course it puts online. 

People accessing online courses are educators, current or prospective college students, and independent learners.  Initially, M.I.T.’s target audience and "part of its original intent was to provide teachers with the raw materials to lead a course, especially in the outer reaches of the globe" (Alaska, anyone?). 

From the Article:
"Ramamurti Shankar, who has been teaching physics at Yale for more than 30 years and is one of its most popular lecturers, says he has received scores of e-mail messages, including one from a stay-at-home mother in northern Maine who lives 100 miles from the nearest campus ('Thank you again and again and again for giving me a way to expand my mind without losing my mind!')."

Neeru Paharia of Peer 2 Peer University "likes to talk about signals, a concept borrowed from economics. 'Having a degree is a signal,' she says. 'It’s a signal to employers that you’ve passed a certain bar.'  Here’s the radical part: Ms. Paharia doesn’t think degrees are necessary. P2PU is working to come up with alternative signals that indicate to potential employers that an individual is a good thinker and has the skills he or she claims to have — maybe a written report or an online portfolio."

We live in a new society,” Ms. Paharia says. “People are mobile. We have the Internet. We don’t necessarily need to work within the confines of what defines a traditional education.”

Link to Article: