More than 100,000 people are taking an online course from Yale

20 Feb

Here’s what it means for the future of education

By Dominic Basulto

Photo of Robert Shiller

Robert Shiller has received plenty of interest in his Financial Markets course. [ Denis Balibouse/Reuters ]

The first-ever MOOC taught by a Nobel Prize-winning academic – the Financial Markets course taught by Yale’s Robert Shiller – has already signed up more than 100,000 people from around the world. Measured in terms of sign-ups only, that makes it the most successful business MOOC ever and one of the top MOOCs of all time.

But is it truly innovative? And, if it is, what exactly is it disrupting?

It’s easy to dismiss this new Yale MOOC as just another case of the rich getting richer, especially since the course is really just an updated version of a course already offered by Yale in 2011. Yale gets another chance to extend its Ivy League brand around the world (without the need to invest in a controversial new campus), while at the same time, showcasing how the university is still ahead of the innovation curve in education.

However, that kind of thinking ignores how this Yale MOOC is the next step in a broader transformation of the world of higher education. In short, the world of education is starting to look a lot like the world of digital entertainment, in which we stream or download the specific content we want, when we want it, for a low price, from our favorite artists. Superstar academics from places such as Yale and Stanford can now teach hundreds of thousands of students at one time, and that could cause a fracturing of the typical system of higher education.

That will result in much more of an a la carte approach to education. Instead of buying a four-year Yale education, for example, you might pick up a few science courses from MIT, a few humanities courses from Harvard or Yale, and a course in entrepreneurship from Stanford. You can think of Robert Shiller, the Nobel Prize winning academic, as the educational equivalent of a platinum-selling artist like Beyonce. Eventually, these academics may be able to sell courses for $0.99 a pop the way that artists sell songs for $0.99. Institutions such as Yale will become the equivalents the record labels, with a bevy of top talent. And the emerging new educational platforms – like Coursera or MITx or Udacity – will become the new iTunes of the digital education era.

[ Full article available at The Washington Post: ]

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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in MOOCs in the News


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