Harvard and MIT to offer free online classes. What it means for you, what it means for the world, what it means for education.
Republished with author's permission by Stephen Clinton http://www.KingsOfCash.com/
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author's program note. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) was the first of the mega rich American tycoons. He made his money in transportation... first with boats ferrying freight and passengers between Staten Island and Manhattan, then by combining America's 13 railroad systems into the massive New York Central railroad, with which he controlled America's crucial and lucrative transportation network.
How did he do it? In part by never being the first person to commit his resources to the establishment and growth of a new business. No, indeed. Instead he watched what other entrepreneurs were doing... until he figured out where they were right and, as important, where they were making mistakes and were vulnerable. With such facts firmly in hand, he developed a plan that simultaneously destroyed their business... and established him as the lead player in the enterprises he wished to dominate. It was brilliant and it made him very rich indeed.
The same thing is happening right now, right here in Cambridge where on May 2, 2012, the two greatest educational institutions on earth gave public notice that they plan not only to go online with educational classes, but intend to be the dominant players.
"Urbi et Orbi".
Since 1626 when the Basilica was completed, the pontiffs of the Roman Catholic Church have raised their gloved hands on the balcony of St. Peter's to address "Urbi et Orbi", the people of Rome and the people of the world. This appearance was designed to impress and it did. One man, his important message, the attention of the world, and the change that man desired and mandated. Thus, the Bishop of Rome did his business -- and thus he does it to this day.
And so do Harvard and MIT aim to do their business and change the world "Cantabridgia et Urbi", to the people of Cambridge and to the people of the world... a development of literally universal significance.
Scrutinizing the field, determined to better what is available, putting their money where their mouth is.
Since the inception of the Internet, farseeing people have rightly said there would be classes offered to the world... but how and by whom? The devil, as is entirely usual in such matters, was in the details. And so a series of entrepreneurs stepped forward and offered their version of online education, in the hope that theirs would be the version that stuck, thus
* The Minerva Project. a for-profit university with all course material available online.
* Udacity. A startup born from online engineering courses at Stanford University.
* Coursera. A center for online courses from Stanford, Princeton, Michigan and Penn.
Up until the joint announcement of Harvard and MIT these organizations had a shot at success. But the minute Harvard President Drew Faust and MIT President Susan Hockfield had their say, you could almost feel the palpable dismay of the other online course innovators. Their likelihood of success had just evaporated.
Of course these other innovators put the best possible face on the matter. Coursera's founders, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, said they were glad to see other universities engage in online education; ( though they meant any universities other than Harvard and MIT).
They made a point of emphasizing that those to be offered by edX, the official name of the Harvard-MIT collaboration, would not be nearly as numerous as those they were offering. THEY would offer 40 classes this fall. So there! They made their case as best they could... but no one treated their spin with any seriousness...
... such is the potent magic of Harvard linked now to the technical genius of MIT. Really, who could successfully compete against such a combine? Commodore Vanderbilt knew the answer to that: no one, absolutely no one!
Why the Harvard-MIT Partnership will work.
These are the reasons edX, which will operate as an independent, nonprofit entity, will wallop the field:
1) Brand name. Harvard is the preeminent university in the world, and the world (which craves the reliability and reassurance of brand names) knows Harvard. While MIT may not be as generally well known, its reputation amongst the technically agile is unsurpassed. Quite simply, this team rocks.
2) Money. Harvard and MIT each plunked down $30 million to finance this enterprise. They know it takes money to make money, and by committing a significant sum, they announced this was a major project and would get major attention and and major financing.
3) Talent. The best people in the world want to be associated with these titans of learning. Harvard enhances their resumes; they burnish Harvard's already majestic community of scholars and MIT's technocrats. Now an expert in Tokyo or Oslo can teach for edX and never come to Cambridge. Think what this means! Now every scholar and technical expert on earth glimpses their connection and future with the most significant global instructional effort ever. And as a result they will flock to be a part of something so timely, significant, and influential.
4) Students. Recruitment for students will feature classes restricted to a million auditors. These classes will fill in minutes, and have waiting lists. Only Harvard and MIT can contemplate such reality. People in every country on earth will thrill to such an education, offered by such institutions, theirs now for the first time and joyously.
As President Hockfield said, "You can choose to view this era as one of threatening change and unsettling volatility, or you can see it as a moment charged with the most exciting possibilities presented to educators in our lifetime."
There are, to be sure, many matters yet to be arranged. Of course there are; the world is being summoned here for advancement and sweeping change. How could there not be dozens of important elements not yet resolved, not the least being how to recognize student participation and achievement without watering down the degrees offered by each institution. You can be assured the Old Guard will scrutinize this matter with the utmost care. But these details in due course will be solved leaving us to behold and benefit from this cosmic enterprise sure to advance our species.
For this moment, we need great Beethoven and his 3rd Symphony, "Eroica" (1805) It celebrates grand ideas, great visions, thrilling vistas, and the achievement of our highest and most challenging inspirations, aspirations and objectives. For this moment only Beethoven will do. Go now to any search engine and find this soaring sound and remember you were here when mankind made this stupendous leap into a future suddenly better.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.
Republished with author's permission by Stephen Clinton http://KingsOfCash.com.