Does an education lead to revolution or does a revolution generate
access to education? It seems that currently
there is a simultaneous evolution of both.
Billions can now gain access to an education that would
otherwise be reserved for a privileged few depending on their social, economic,
and geographic location. A revolution in
education is slowly taking place with the Internet as its primary driving
force. Its simple; the internet allows
easy access to streaming lectures while interactive elements on the site allow
instructors to collect data from their students. Think of all the potentially innovative
perspectives that can emerge from diverse individuals gaining access to
Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, created by
organizations like edX, Coursera, and Udacity are collectively working with
universities like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford to create a college level
education that is fully streamed online for free on the internet. This will undoubtedly stir things up at
brick and mortar institutions as well as private online universities when more
people turn to MOOCs to replace their inflated and limited offered courses.
There are currently over 80 million people enrolled in some
form of education system or institution in the United States ranging from
kindergarten to graduate school. Currently, with all the budget cuts to
education both on a local and federal level, the quality and access to
education is becoming scarce. However, each
year there is a steady increase in the number of students taking online courses to replace the traditional classroom setting.
It will take time before MOOCs reach a point where they
could replace the university system altogether. It seems more reasonable they
could first transition as a supplement to established education systems or
replace courses that have been stretched too thin by lack of funding. However, in countries where access to formal
education is nonexistent MOOCs serve as an incredible alternative. About 60% of
the people signing up for MOOCs are from countries like China and Brazil, which
are heavily populated and starving for information.
Its hard to say what the effects of this revolution can
lead to. A global drive to reach the peak of human innovation and intelligence?
Could we grow out of such immature emotions like greed and dominance? Or would
this lead to more government censorship and oppression due to the strain of competitiveness? What this evolution
will undoubtedly lead to is the possibility of free, high quality education for
Image courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons by: dullhunk