Q & A: The Democratization of Education through Technology

In the Q & A below, Anant Agarwal (computer architecture researcher, founder and CEO of edX) offers some ideas of what education could look like in the future: modular learning (short-term course-taking instead of completing a degree), stackable learning (institutions offering degrees based upon credentials one has accumulated from various institutions), and a greater emphasis on problem solving, empathy, and communication rather regurgitating facts.

Anant Agarwal and the democratization of education through technology

Given that the author is chatting with a major figure of the massive online open course platform edX, it sometimes reads like an edX commercial, but it’s still interesting to read ideas on how technology and employee/employers needs might reshape education.

Free Online Courses: Coursera, EdX

If you’re looking for professional development opportunities, or an opportunity to try a new skill, or simply a chance to experience the student perspective with online learning, you might try two platforms of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCS: edX and Coursera

Please note: this is a much different format than the IL courses we teach. Rather than an actively involved teacher providing instruction through feedback (like our courses), these courses enroll thousands of students, with autograded quizzes and peer review providing much of the feedback. That being said, it is interesting to experience.

Many courses are free to explore, and for a fee (some in the tens of dollars, others in the hundreds), you can earn a certificate.

Any thoughts on the nature of MOOCs? While I much prefer the personalization of Independent Learning, these do allow for a large number students to access learning. Do you have any experience engaging in these courses?

Massive Open Online Courses

In recent years, MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, have become more popular and common. These online courses can each have tens of thousands of students enrolled. Since summer, 190 universities have announced or launched 600 free online courses in a wide variety of fields of study. A list of these courses, along with links to other lists of MOOCs, can be found here:

Some things to consider:
What is your own familiarity or experience with MOOCs?
What are the pros and cons of these kinds of courses?
Many of these courses have free and open access. Is there anything in these courses (content, layouts, ideas, etc) that we could incorporate in our own courses?