Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The College Of The Future

So, if you're like me you went to college, drank too much and then got expelled. What did I have to show for all my hard work? A mountain of debt (about $30,000). Now, I was a decent student don't get me wrong. However, dry campus plus kegger in the dorm equals academic probation. A little known equation I learned the hard way. Ever since that fateful day I have been committed to earning an education on my own accord for free. I'm not alone though roughly one out of five Americans are in debt due to student loans and the costs associated with earning a college education are rising. Hope is not all lost, however, thanks to a number of online sites like Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity, and EDx who offer free online classes taught by some of the world's leading professors from top universities.

The style of all of these vary greatly and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, none of these have a complete course schedules or offer accreditation but many are working towards this. The Khan Academy, which has traditionally focused on Math, is expanding into Art, History and the Humanities. EDx, which started as MITx, joined with Harvard and most recently added UC Berkley and The University of Texas to its roster of Universities and offers classes from these schools. The scope of all of these sites are expanding greatly. In addition to offering video lectures EDx and Udacity offer course material and problem sets.

Khan Academy may have been the first to implement free online education but most certainly won't be the last. Recently Coursera and EDx has been of some particular note. I myself have just enrolled myself into three classes: CS550x: Introduction To Computers from EDx, Valuation & Investing from Khan Academy, and EP245: How To Build A Startup from Udacity. Throughout my next semester I will me giving you guys some updates into my progress. So far, I like the EDx setup the best; it offers course materials, syllabus, lectures, problem sets, tests, a final and I feel like it offers a more complete class offering than say Khan which mostly just provides videos and some tutorials with math. I will reserve my judgement until I finish my classes and will offer a brief overview as I go along.

I think this is just what our education system needs. Not just collegiate education but primary and secondary education as well. With the advances in technology I hope to see this integrated into more classrooms. Some teachers are actually using some of the Khan lectures in classrooms and their have been a lot of talks about 21st century education especially in developing countries. I hope my studeis go well and I hope that in the future these new free offerings from top educators can set the standard for education to come. As always, I would love to hear your opinion especially if you are an educator. What do you think the future holds for education?

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