There are two things in life that you shouldn’t have to pay for and the first is healthcare and the second is education. This article is from March 2012 but I only just got round to reading it. It’s no less fascinating and I like where this is going:
Last fall, the university in the heart of Silicon Valley did something it had never done before: It opened up three classes, including CS221, to anyone with a web connection. Lectures and assignments—the same ones administered in the regular on-campus class—would be posted and auto-graded online each week. Midterms and finals would have strict deadlines. Stanford wouldn’t issue course credit to the non-matriculated students. But at the end of the term, students who completed a course would be awarded an official Statement of Accomplishment.
People around the world have gone crazy for this opportunity. Fully two-thirds of my 160,000 classmates live outside the US. There are students in 190 countries—from India and South Korea to New Zealand and the Republic of Azerbaijan. More than 100 volunteers have signed up to translate the lectures into 44 languages, including Bengali. In Iran, where YouTube is blocked, one student cloned the CS221 class website and—with the professors’ permission—began reposting the video files for 1,000 students.
I’m selfishly hoping that this will become more and more of a trend with universities increasingly putting all of their courses online and (more importantly) free.
What with the steady rise in school fees it horrifies me to think of how much it might cost to educate my children in the future. Programs like the one featured and other outliers like Khan Academy give me hope that these will drive the cost of education to a more affordable level.
Else the irony is that whilst our future generations might get smarter and smarter thanks to all the available information online, yet thanks to skyrocketing uni fees they’d be denied official recognition for their talents which would frustrate their efforts to get jobs. But I’m sure that with open minded educators will also follow open minded employers.