By Peter High
Much has been written of late about the need for healthcare reform in our country. Whether one is a fan of the Affordable Care Act or not, the case for change is quite clear. The fact that healthcare makes up such a high proportion of our gross domestic product (north of 17 percent), and has grown at such a fast clip relative to the consumer-price index (one and a half times) underscores the need for change. However, there is an industry the fundamentals of which have not dramatically changed in hundreds of years, and yet its costs have risen at a rate three times as fast as the consumer-price index. That field is education.
The classroom setting with a professor standing at the head of a class talking at a roomful of students is largely the same model that existed when the first universities were established in the United States. It is no wonder that some creative people have stepped forward with truly innovative ideas in the education space to attempt to turn the traditional model upside down.
The most prominent example of this is the massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Companies like Udacity, Coursera, and edX offer content from some of the world’s leading universities for free. Interestingly enough, each was founded by current or past academics from Stanford, Stanford, and MIT respectively. The inspiration for at least one of these was the Khan Academy, which famously began when Salman Khan began tutoring his young cousin in mathematics using Yahoo!’s Doodle notepad. When he uploaded his lessons to YouTube, hundreds of thousands of people began to learn from Khan’s teachings, convincing him that there was a broader opportunity to pursue. Some foreign MOOCs have been established, as well. A prominent example is the UK’s FutureLearn, led by former BBC executive Simon Nelson, which has drawn in content from many leading UK and Commonwealth of Nations universities.
[ Full article available at Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2013/12/09/education-technology-is-in-its-infancy-but-it-is-growing-fast/ ]