What if Ray Kurzweill and Coursera makes higher education free on-line?

Ray Kurzweill invented the technology that reads text and converts it into spoken language and he has written an article on the revolution in online college education that tells of a wild new future in the making. M.I.T., Stanford, Harvard, University of Texas University System, Berkley, and dozens of other schools are looking to offer free or very inexpensive on-line, full credit college courses. The Coursera organization is leading the way in free on-line courses. And edX, a $60 million MIT-Harvard effort to stream a college education over the Web has plans to teach a billion students. A billion students with a “B”! Now this is uncharted territory.

If you have young people in your family this is news you need to know!

Article from kurzweilai.net:

Education is about to change dramatically, says Anant Agarwal, who heads edX, a $60 million MIT-Harvard effort to stream a college education over the Web, free, with plans to teach a billion students, Technology Review reports.

“Massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, offered by new education ventures like edX, Coursera, and Udacity, to name the most prominent (see “The Crisis in Higher Education”) will affect markets so large that their value is difficult to quantify.

A quarter of the American population, 80 million people, is enrolled in K–12 education, college, or graduate school. Direct expenditures by government exceed $800 billion. Add to that figure private education and corporate training.

At edX, Agarwal says, the same three-person team of a professor plus assistants that used to teach analog circuit design to 400 students at MIT now handles 10,000 online and could take a hundred times more.

Coursera, an alliance between Stanford and two dozen other schools, claims that it had 1.5 million students sign up.

Changing the world

The rise of the MOOCs means we can begin thinking about how free, top-quality education could change the world.

Khan’s videos are popular in India, and the MOOC purveyors have found that 60 percent of their sign-ups are self-starters from knowledge-hungry nations like Brazil and China. Nobody knows what a liberal application of high-octane educational propellant might do. Will it supersize innovation globally by knocking away barriers to good instruction? Will frightened governments censor teachers as they have the Web?

The eventual goal isn’t to stream videos but to perfect education through the scientific use of data. Just imagine software that maps an individual’s knowledge and offers a lesson plan unique to him or her.

Now that would be something! No spending $35,000 a year to get a piece of paper that might mean you are educated or might not. Now the lower class might have a chance to compete with the rich children. Maybe a homeschooling mother will become a Doctor of Economics while she is teaching her kids about fractions. What a wild ride the near future might be.

Note that the portable devices needed to take such online courses are about to get a huge boost as Intel announced that it is distributing 100 of the experimental 48-core chips that will turn Tablets and portables into supper-computers with not dual core processors but ones with 48 cores! Interesting times indeed.

(note: I first noticed this article in a post by the great economist Dr. Gary North)


One thought on “What if Ray Kurzweill and Coursera makes higher education free on-line?

  1. Pingback: Online College

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